What Is Intelligence Testing?
Intelligence testing is a measure of an individual's intelligence based on a series of questions. thefreedictionary.com states that an intelligence test is "A standardized test used to establish an intelligence level rating by measuring a subject's ability to form concepts, solve problems, acquire information, reason, and perform other intellectual operations". Intelligence has roots in psychology. Initially called psychological assessments, these can also measure "individual differences brcause the majority of assessments specify how an individual is differernt from or similar to other people on a given dimension." (From Chapter 9 of Psychology and Life by Richard J. Gerrig)
A standard IQ Bell Curve showing percentage of population in relation to IQ score.
How & Why Was IQ Testing Developed?
Alfred Binet developed the first intelligence test. He was asked by the French minister of public instruction to help create teaching methods for developmentally disabled children. He worked with Theodore Simon to measure intelligence ability in children. They both believed that this would help when planning curriculum. Binet measured intellectual performance with age appropriate problems that were then compared. These questions were very straight forward with having a correct or incorrect answer as well as being broad enough to be appropriate for many different living environments. Average scores for "normal" children were tallied and each child was then compared with the average for other children of the same age. Test results showed a child's "mental age."
Standardized testing came into use in Westerns psychology in the early 1900s. Sir Francis Galton, who was a half cousin to Charles Darwin, published a book in 1869 called Hereditary Genius. This book was the foundation for theories, methods and practices of intelligence testing. At Stanford University, Lewis Terman adapted Binet's test for American schoolchildren. In 1961 he published the Stanford Revision of Binet's tests. This provided the idea of a child having an "intelligent quotient" which was the mental age divided by the chronological age multiplied by 100. The new Stanford-Binet test became standard in clinical psychology, psychiatry and education counselling. The Stanford-Binet has been revised since 1916 and has also been extended to measure IQ of the very young and very intelligent adults. These revision have also provided updated norms for age-appropriate average scores and estimates IQ for individuals in normal range as well as those who may ben mentally impaired or mentally gifted. Here is a link of an examply of a Stanford-Binet test: http://www.stanfordbinet.net/
HOw IQ testing was meant to be used - How Is It Used Today?
IQ testing was meant to be used to figure out which children may have had learning disabilities and how they could be helped. This did happen for a short time until, like everything else, the extremists decided to use it for their benefit. More on that later! For now let's look at how intelligence testing is used today.
The most common IQ tests are for adults is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS). David Wechsler, who developed this test, was considered "feeble-minded" by earlier IQ tests. The WAIS has 15 subtests which assess abilities such as vocabulary, arithmetic, spatial ability, reasoning about proverbs and general knowledge about the world. This test gives several different scores; an overall IQ score plus scores for verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed. There are also tests for children, they are: the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) and the Wechsler Primary and Preschool Scale of Intelligence (WPPSI). These tests can be used to predict life outcomes but are not always guaranteed because an IQ level may not be "forever." If you click on the picture of the WAIS above it will take you to a website where you can actually purchase your own test!
Why would these test not be guaranteed? What would be a factor that could hinder someone's success even though they have a high IQ score?
High IQ scores do not always correlate to everyday life. Just because someone scores high does not mean they have the social or interpersonal skills to do well during a job interview. Unsuccessful job interviews rarely lead to successful job titles. Another factor would be the fact that anything can happen. An accident where brain activity is affected or nerve impulses are damaged will not allow someone to become successful just because they had a high IQ score. In some cases IQ levels may be lost and in others the reaction time may not allow someone to move or work as they used to. Another main factor would be economic status. Some individuals may score high on IQ tests but not have the opportunity to attend higher education because of financial difficulties. Having a high IQ does not hook the job. Having an education is the most important thing in Canada right now for finding a well-paying job. Visit this site to see eight reasons why IQ levels could be meaningless: http://listverse.com/2013/05/19/8-reasons-the-iq-is-meaningless/
What Do IQ Tests Measure?
The main IQ test for adults is the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) mentioned above. The WAIS subtests 15 areas which assess abilities such as vocabulary, arithmetic, spatial ability, reasoning about proverbs and general knowledge about the world. This test gives several different scores; an overall IQ score plus scores for verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory and processing speed.
Other university and college level tests include the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) which consists of three sections - Math, Reading& Writing, and in Canada The Graduate Record Examination (GRE). These are used for admission to various programs and schools. The picture above is an example of a question on the WPPSI.
Benefits & Drawbacks of Intelligence Testing
I think a benefit of intelligence testing includes all the results that have been compiled over the years. These results can be compared to each other in regards to social economic status, gender, age and grade level. It's important to have knowledge of intelligence levels and to test it so they there can be different education programs created as well as to keep people interested in intelligence. We are at a point in the world where everything, including intelligence, is at our finger tips if we only reach out and grab it.
A drawback of intelligence testing is that it does not account for cultural differences. Growing up in Toronto I was exposed to a true "melting-pot" of cultures. I knew people from Italy and Macedonia who were so smart and always had something to teach me but those same people would not have had a high score on an IQ test.
Issues with IQ Testing and the Abuses of IQ Testing
Mentioned above was the fact that IQ testing does not take into account people from different cultures. Another issue with IQ testing is that it does not take into consideration other dimensions of intellect, such as emotional, creative, interpersonal and so on. Howard Gardner's theory of intelligence includes eight different aspects; they are: musical, bodily & kinesthetic, logical mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist intelligence. Gardner believes that these aspects are independent of each other and some individuals may be relatively intelligent in one aspect and not in another.
I admire and respect Gardner's view on intelligence because I feel as though myself and some of my friends were overlooked when we were younger because we didn't fit into the "usual" category of being intelligent.
The main issue that saw IQ testing being abused is that of a movement called Eugenics. Eugenics happened in North American shortly after Binet developed his original IQ testing. Once the test was translated to English it was used to identify adults (usually new immigrants) deemed intellectually inferior. We learned in lecture that this was applied to many new immigrants and also individuals who had parents who were alcoholics or had other varying mental diseases. In a Prezi slideshow we learned that Robert Yerkes, Henry Goddard, and Lewis Terman ("a bunch of white guys") considered themselves Eugenicists. They believed that your intelligence and IQ is inherited or genetic. They believed that you were either Intelligent or a Moron (having mental age 8-12) an Imbecile (having a mental age of 3-7) or an Idiot (having a mental age of 3 or less). Morons were the most threatening because they were considered stupid but not stupid enough to not have sex. Which meant that they could procreate and bring another moron into the world. These people were forced into sterilization and institutionalization. Another factor that Eugenicists implemented was that of restricting immigration from those countries who were thought to have low intelligence (Eastern and Southern Europe). Personally, I had never heard of Eugenics before this class and I am appalled that this happened in Canada. The picture above is an example of Eugenic propaganda. This poster is similar in language to posters that were popular in Nazi Germany. This is an interesting article talking about how "designer babies" are a resemblance of Eugenics: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/03/sperm-donot-lawsuit-racism-eugenics-lesbian-couple-black-donor
How do good things, like developing a program to help developmentally delayed children, come to represent bad ideas? I think that anyone who takes anything to an extreme runs a risk of looking crazy. Examples of this could be Nazi Germany and Hitler and his followers, members of Al-Qaeda, Atheist extremists and most recently ISIS. Everything in moderation except moderation!