Intelligence and Its Assessment
Charles Stephen Knause

Intelligence and Its Assessment


In order to have any kind of a logical discussion regarding the various types of tests traditionally used to assess intelligence it might be wise to proceed by first not offering up a definition of precisely what intelligence is in a theoretical sense but rather is an operational definition. According to Gregory (2013) however there are two particular problems with seeking to use an operational definition of intelligence which are the fact that such operational definitions resort in many cases to such circular logic as intelligence is what is measured by IQ tests and that the convenience of being able to resort to an operational definition of intelligence as opposed to a real definition has the effect of inhibiting “further progress in understanding the nature of intelligence” because the resort to such short-hand methods short-circuits all attempts to get at a real definition.
Given the nature of that particular problem the other option at hand is to delve into what Gregory, p.135 calls the “Expert Definition of Intelligence” that forms the basis of a subheading under which the science based views of a couple of generations of expert views on the nature of intelligence can be conveniently found. A sample of such would include the following:
Spearman (1904, 1923): a general ability that involves mainly the education of
relations and its correlates.
Binet and Simon (1905): the ability to judge well, to understand well, to reason
Terman (1916): the capacity to form concepts and to grasp their significance.
Thorndike (1921): the power of good responses from the point of view of truth
or fact.
Wechsler (1939): the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposively,
to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment.
Piaget (1972); a generic term to indicate the superior forms of organization
or equilibrium of cognitive structuring used for adaption to the physical and
social environment.
Eysenck (1986): error-free transmission of information through the cortex.
The early theories in the modern age about the nature of intelligence within the emerging new field of psychology came out of an era called “the brass instrument era” of psychology precisely because brass instruments made to order for the measurement of everything from A to Z were in fact made of brass. One of the most important early pioneers in the field of a science based psychology was J. McKeen Cattell who as a student of Sir Francis Galton saw intelligence as a kind of sensory keenness. This theory was based upon reaction time and movement time in relationship to environmental stimuli. Charles Spearman’s Two-Factor Theory of Intelligence was a distinct advance along the path to unraveling the mystery of defining the nature of intelligence. It relied upon a definition that theorized that intelligence consisted to two distinct factors that Spearman label a single general factor g and various specific factors represented as s₁, s₂, s₃, etc. Spearman’s help in inventing factor analysis as an analytic research methodology for the investigation of the nature of intelligence may have been his most important and long reaching contribution to this somewhat esoteric field of psychological endeavor. The CHC-Three Stratum Theory of Cognitive Abilities that takes its initials from the originators of the theory Raymond Cattell-John Horn-John Carroll and is probably the most advanced cognitive theory. It is based upon the idea of fluid intelligence, crystalized intelligence, and domain specific intelligence, along with other such concepts as visual-spacial abilities, auditory processing, broad retrieval memory, cognitive processing speed, and decision/reaction speed as independent theoretical constructs. There are at the same time such other highly credible theories such as: the (SOI) Structure of Intellect Model (Guilford, 1967), the (PASS) Planning, Attention, Simultaneous, and Successive Theory, various information processing theories, as well as such theories of multiple intelligences as that put forward by Howard Gardner (1983, 1993) that theorizes that there are seven distinct types of intelligence that he calls: (1) linguistic, (2) logical-mathematical, (3) spatial, (4) musical, (5) bodily kinesthetic, (6) interpersonal, (7) intrapersonal. Finally, Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence (Sternberg, 1985b, 1986, 1996):
….takes a much wider view of the nature of intelligence than most previous theorists. In
addition to proposing that certain mental mechanisms are required for intelligent
behavior, he also emphasizes that intelligence involves adaption to the real-world
environment. His theory emphasizes what he calls successful intelligence or “the
ability to adapt to, shape, and select environments to accomplish one’s goals and
those of one’s society and culture” (Sternberg & Kaufman, 1998, p.494; as cited
by Gardner, p.156).

Individual Tests

In this paper three different intelligence assessment batteries have been chosen for examination which are the following: the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales: Fifth Edition (SB5), the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV), and the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT). Some of the other individual IQ tests that could have been examined that are also widely used are the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude-4 (DTLA-4), the Cognitive Assessment System-II (CAS-II), Kaufman’s Brief Intelligence Test-2 (KBIT-2), Raymond Cattell’s Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CFIT), and Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM). The Wechsler Scales of Intelligence include three other individual IQ assessments other than the WAIS-IV. These are the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children -IV that is appropriate for children aged 6 through 16, the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-III (WIAT-III) that is appropriate for children ages 4 to adults age 50, and the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence-Revised (WPPSI-R) that is appropriate for ages 3 through 7. The three other Wechsler tests are: (1) the Wechsler Memory Scale that was launched in 2009, (2) the Wechsler Test of Adult Reading, and (3) the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI).

Group tests

There are a number of highly rated group administered intelligence tests that include the following: (1) The Army Alpha Test (Verbal Ability), (2) The Army Beta Test (a non-language test), (3) The Cognitive Abilities Test (CogAT), (4) The Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), (5) The Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT), (6) Raven’s Progressive Matrices, (7) Culture Fair Intelligence Test (CFIT), (8) The Leiter International Performance Scale, (9) Goodenough-Harris Drawing Test (G-HDT).
Additional intelligence assessment tests
The following are highly reliable and valid intelligence assessments that are much less widely used or used in only certain highly specify situations: (1) the Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), (2) the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT), (3) the Henmon-Nelson Tests of Mental Ability, (4) Stoelting Brief Intelligence Test (S-BIT), (5) Merrill-Palmer Scale-Revised, (6) Sloesson Intelligence Test-Primary Memory (SIT-P), (7) Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test (UNIT), (8) Cognitive Assessment System (CAS), (9) Test of Memory and Learning (TOMAL), (10) Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence (WASI), (11) Beta III, (12) Comprehensive Test of Nonverbal Intelligence (CTONI), (13) Wide Range Intelligence Test (WRIT).
The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales: Fifth Edition (SB5)
According to Walsh & Betz (2001), p.162- “The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, probably the best-known intelligence test in the world, is the direct descendent of the original Binet-Simon scales, first developed in 1905.” The SB5 consists of 15 subtests with 6 of these being core tests that are administered to all age groups with the remaining 9 being administered selectively to the appropriate age group. These 15 subtests include the following: Vocabulary, Bead Memory, Quantitative, Memory for Sentences, Pattern Analysis, Comprehension, Absurdities, Memory for Digits, Copying, Memory for Objects, Matrices, Number Series, Paper Folding and Cuttings, Verbal Relations, and Equation Building. The test is owned and published by the Riverside Publishing Company. The SB5 was revised to incorporate the factor structure of the (CHC) Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory of intelligence that has been previously mentioned in the introduction. According to Williams, McIntosh & Dixon, Newton, Youman (2010), p. 1071-
This measure was considered to be a significant improvement over the previous edition
(Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition [SB-IV]; Thorndike, Hagen, & Sattler,
1996; as cited by Williams et al. (2010) in many ways. First, to address concerns about
incomplete factor structure of the SB-IV ( Kline, 1989; McCallum, 1990; Thorndike,
1990; as cited by Williams et al.), the SB5 was constructed based on the CHC
hierarchical theory of intelligence (Becker, 2003: as cited by Williams et al.). The SB5
maintained the Full Scale IQ score composed of verbal and nonverbal abilities; however,
it also measured five CHC constructs of intelligence: Fluid Intelligence (G f ), Crystalized
Knowledge ( G c ), Quantitative Knowledge ( G q ), Visual Processing ( G v ), and Short-
Term Memory ( G sm ) ( Roid, 2003a, b; as cited by Williams et al.).

History of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales

According to Gregory, p. 174- “the Stanford-Binet: Fifth Edition (SB5) has the oldest and perhaps the most prestigious pedigree of any of the intelligence tests.” Walsh & Betz, describe the Stanford-Binet Inelligence Scale as “probably the best-known intelligence test in the world, is a direct descendent of the original Binet-Simon Scales, first developed in 1905.” Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and Theophile Simon (1873-1961) were the two Frenchmen who were commissioned in 1904 by the French Ministry of Education to develop an assessment device that would enable mentally handicapped children, i.e. retarded children to be identified early on in the educational process (Walsh & Betz, p.147). This happened at the same time as the Galton-Cattel approach to intelligence was declining. The difference between the two approaches was that Binet-Simon thought of intelligence as a higher type of mental process that involved both judgment and reasoning ability as opposed to the kind of reaction time/sensory-motor capabilities that formed the basis of the Galton-Cattel theory of intelligence. Some aspects of the Galton-Cattell reaction-time approach were retained by Binet & Simon with the launch of the first Binet-Simon Intelligence Test in 1905. In regard to this,Walsh & Betz, p.147 state the following-

“Thus, while the first Binet-Simon intelligence test in 1905, retained Galton’s tests of weights discrimination and short term memory, it emphasized the capacity to make good judgments, to reason well, and to use common sense…..In addition to their emphasis on judgment and reasoning, Binet and Simon contributed the essential notion that the capacity to demonstrate the ‘higher mental processes’ should increase as the child aged…”

This was the beginning of the modern approach to understanding and doing intelligence assessment based upon this concept of IQ invented by Binet-Simon that took the chronological age of the child and dividing that into the overall test score and then multiplying that by 100. It was however, actually Stanford University psychology professor Lewis W. Terman who revised and standardized the original Binet-Simon test in 1916 so that it could be used in the United States who was responsible for this very specific formulation of IQ that we recognize as such today and still continue to use in spite of some subtle conundrums. Curiously enough, the actual formulation for calculating the IQ score that Terman incorporated into the revised Binet-Simon test that became the Stanford-Binet had been suggested to him by an associate by the name of William Stern. The exact formula for calculating IQ is present in the following manner by Walsh & Betz, p. 148- “… the 6-year old scoring at the 3-year old level would have an IQ of 50 (MA/CA x 100 = 3/6 x 100 = 50), while the 6-year-old scoring at the 9-year-old level would have an IQ of 150 (MA/CA x 100 = 9/6 x 100 = 150).” [ MA= mental age: CA= chronological age].

Validity & reliability of the SB5.

Commenting on the SB-IV, Walsh & Betz indicate that the standardization sample used for the SB-IV was “5000 individuals aged 2 to 23, selected to be representative of the U.S. population in 1980.” The same authors also indicate that the SB-IV is highly reliable. According they state that “The internal consistency reliability of the composite scores range from 0.95 to 0.99 across age levels.” The scores for the cognitive areas range from 0.80 to 0.97, and the scores for the individual subtests are in the high 0.80s and low 0.90s “except for reliability ranges from 0.66 to 0.78 depending on age group.” The same source indicates that the test-retest reliability coefficients are 0.91 and 0.90 and that these scores were obtained using a sample of 57 five-year-olds and 55 eight-year olds. The validity data available on the SB-IV indicates a high correlation ( r = 0.81) with the IQ scores of the earlier versions of the Stanford-Binet test series. In regard to validity correlations with other intelligence tests the same source indicates that the SB-IV shows “excellent differentiation among gifted, learning disabled, and mentally retarded examinees.” (p.167). The SB-IV can therefore be assumed to be a highly reliable IQ test especially for the testing of children and “for the diagnosis of mental retardation, and for the prediction and explanation of academic achievement.”

The SB5’s validity and reliability was measured using a high-achieving sample in Williams et al. Accordingly they state that the SB5 “exhibits good reliability. Specifically, the reliability coefficients for the Full Scale IQ score was high (.97 to .98).” In addition to this, they state that the reliability coefficients of the subtests, IQ and Factor Index Scores for individuals within the age range of the sample used ranged from .76 to .98. The Test-retest coefficients as measured within 1-27 days after the first test were between .76 and .93 for a sample size with ages ranging from 6 to 20 years old. The Full Scale and composite IQ scores of the SB5 were also compared with previous versions of the Stanford-Binet as well as with the Wechsler scales and the Woodcock-Johnson III Tests of Cognitive Ability (WJ-III-COG). According to Williams et al. “All analyses provided strong evidence of validity.” Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were used for concurrent validity studies with the results showing correlational coefficients “at or above .78 when the Full Scale IQ was compared to other validated full scale scores (Roid, 2003b; as cited by Williams et al., p. 1072).
The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-IV (WAIS-IV)

According to Walsh & Betz, the original Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale was published by David Wechsler, a psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, in 1939 and was called the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. According to Gregory, p.160- “In describing the development of his first test, he (David Wechsler) later wrote, “Our aim was not to produce a set of whole new tests but to select, from whatever source available, such a combination of them as would meet the requirements of an effective adult scale (Wechsler, 1939; as cited by Gregory).” According to the same source many of the scales on the original Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale were perhaps “borrowed” from the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales as well as the Army Alpha and Beta tests. Indeed Gregory states on p.160 that-“Readers who peruse Psychological Examining in the United States Army, a volume edited by Yerkes (1921) just after World War I, might be astonished to discover that Wechsler purloined dozens of test items from this source…” Gregory then goes to relate the fact that many of these scales purloined by Wechsler have survived to the present day in spite of the various test revisions that have taken place since that time.

In spite of this or maybe because of it, Wechsler can be thought of as a pragmatic researcher who used whatever he could find elsewhere to put together the kind of adult intelligence assessment that he felt would have long term validity and reliability. In so doing, he may not have been mistaken as according to Hartman (2009), in his review of the newly launched WAIS-IV for Applied Neuroscience, applies the term “gold standard” to the entire family of Wechsler intelligence scales.

History of the WAIS-IV

David Wechsler (January 12, 1896 – May 2, 1981) was the American psychologist who developed the various Wechsler Intelligence Scales while working at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. After five years in private practice Wechsler became the chief psychologist at Belleview Hospital in 1932 where he remained on the staff until 1967. Wechsler who had been born into a Jewish family in Lespezi, Romania, immigrated to the United States with his parents as a child. Wechsler’s career as a psychologist began with a stint with the U.S. Army where he was assigned the job of Army psychologist at Camp Logan, TX to aid in the screening of new draftees after the U.S.’s entry into World War I. It was there that he had the opportunity to work with such other prominent psychologists of that era such as Karl Pearson, Charles Spearman, Edward Thorndike, and Robert Mearns Yerkes. Wechsler scored the Army Alpha Test which was one of two test given to new draftees in WWI that had been developed by the U.S. Army as a group administered test for intelligence. After WWI, Wechsler undertook extensive research work in the field of experimental psychology at the University of Paris. In 1925 he received his Ph.D. from Columbia where he had studied under Robert S. Woodworth. The Wechsler Intelligence Scales were based upon many new concepts in regard to intelligence testing. He rejected the concept of global intelligence that had been proposed by Charles Spearman and divided the concept of intelligence into two components: verbal intelligence and performance intelligence. Wechsler’s original theories continue to be reflected in the latest addition to the various Wechsler Intelligence Scales, the WAIS-IV.

Validity and reliability of the WAIS-IV

The three types of validity that are used to describe test validity are: (1) content validity, (2) criterion validity, (3) construct validity. Content validity according to Drummond & Jones (2006), can be defined as evidence that the items on any given type of test are representative of some defined universe or content domain and that they can measure the theoretical constructs that such items are supposedly designed to measure. Criterion validity is important because it should demonstrate that the various test scores are systematically related to one or more external variables (criteria). Criterion validity can in turn be broken down into two other distinct categories that are (a) concurrent validity, and (b) predictive validity. The third major type of validity that needs to be evaluated in regard to any such psychometric testing and/or assessment device is construct validity that according Drummond & Jones can be defined as having a meaning when one asks the question- “What do the scores on this test mean or signify?” Accordingly they state on p.56 that the term construct is used to describe a grouping of variables or behaviors that make up observed behavior patterns ( such as intelligence, anxiety, motivation, self-concept). A construct itself is not measurable; only the behaviors or variables that comprise it can be tested and therefore measured.

According to Hartman (2009), the WAIS-IV was normed using a sample size totaling 2200 that consisted of 13 different age groups ranging from 16 to 90 years-old. In spite of Hartman’s over the top enthusiasm for the WAIS-IV in his review for Applied Neuropsychology equating the WAIS-IV with the “Return of the gold standard” in IQ testing; there are no numbers whatsoever in regard to validity and/or reliability to back up his enthusiasm. In this case one wonders what the real unstated purpose of such gushing enthusiasm really was all about. Sudarshan, Saklofske, Bowden, & Weiss (2016) is a more sober, scholarly analysis of the WAIS-IV that undertakes and is based upon “Factor analytic studies of the Wechsler subtest scores in terms of broad CHC abilities” that according to the authors “highlights some controversies, such as (a) discriminant validity of Gv and Gf, (b) the multiple loadings Arithmetic, (c) the difficulty distinguishing short-term memory from long-term memory, and (d) the dual loadings of Similarities on Gc and Gf.” Sudarshan et al. go on to state that- “Controversies of these types are not unexpected because the Wechsler scales have always reflected the fact that the various facets of intelligence are not orthogonal.” The problem with this hyper-technical research study designed to study “a suitable baseline model which was admissible in all nine age groups in the standardization sample” that it is more concerned Confirmatory factor Analysis of the CHC Five Factor Model of Intelligence than the standard determinations regarding reliability and validity. Sudarshan et all does render some extremely important findings in regard to the CHC Five Factor Model that the revised WAIS-IV is based upon and that finding based upon the methodology of CFA, is that the model of intelligence employed in the WAIS-IV is the best possible fit for the entire span of nine different age groupings that the test was designed to serve. There are 15 different subtests included in the WAIS-IV that include the following: (1) Similarities, (2) Vocabulary, (3) Information, (4) Comprehension, (5) Block Design, (6) Visual Puzzles, (7) Picture Completion, (8) Figure Weights, (9) Matrix Reasoning, (10) Arithmetic, (11) Digit Span, (12) Letter-Number Sequencing, (13) Symbol Search, (14) Coding, (15) Cancellation.

The Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT)

Unlike the SB5 and the WAIS-IV that are both individual tests, the WPT is a group test designed to be administered in a group setting although it can also be administered on an individual basis to all prospective new hires on a case by case, one person at a time depending upon the situation at hand. The genius of the Wonderlic Personnel Test (WPT) is that it only takes examinees 12 minutes to complete. According to Walsh & Betz- “Because of the fact that the WPT is a speeded test the test publishers ( E.F. Wonderlic & Associates) recommend an age adjustment to scores, such that examinees over the age of 29 receive from one to five additional points depending on their age.” (p.180). According to this same source “the WPT was adapted from the Otis Mental Ability Tests in 1938.”

History of the WPT

According to Walsh & Betz (2001), p. 180-The Wonderlic Personnel Test has its origin in the Otis Mental Abilities Tests as does the Otis-Lennon School Ability Test (OLSAT). The same authors go on to state that- “…the WPT was adapted from the Otis Self-Administering Tests of Mental Ability in 1938.” The WPT was authored by E.F. “Al” Wonderlic who according to the Wonderlic corporate website was the first Director of Personnel for Household Finance Corporation. Wonderlic Incorporated was founded in 1937 by Al Wonderlic. According to the same source Wonderlic “founded the company as a result of some work he was doing as a doctoral student in psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois where” the Wonderlic corporate website claims that “he developed our first test which is called The WPT was used by the U.S. Navy for use in the selection of candidates to undergo pilot training. During the same time period the Douglas Aircraft Corporation working with Wonderlic and the National Industrial Conference Board (now known as The Conference Board) publishes E.F. Wonderlic’s second study on the scientific analysis of job applicant abilities as a continuing business practice.
Today, Wonderlic, Inc., 400 Lakeview Parkway, Suite 200, Vernon Hills, IL is still the owner and sole publisher of what it calls “the world’s first short-form cognitive ability test, the Wonderlic Personnel Test.”

Reliability and validity of the WPT

According to Bell, Matthews, Lassiter, Leverett (2002), who conducted a study of the WPT as a measure of fluid or crystalized intelligence, the scores that are purported to measure cognitive ability and have been found to correlate with scores from the other more established tests of intelligence. The authors state on p.113 that- “It has been shown to have good concurrent validity by being highly correlated with the Full Scale IQ (FSIQ) of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS; Wechsler, 1955) and Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale -Revised (WAIS-R; Wechsler, 1981) (e.g. Dodrill, 1981; Edinger, Shipley, Watkins, & Hammet, 1985). In a study that was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Health, Dodrill (1983) states that- “Thirty normal adults were administered both the Wonderlic and the WAIS on two occasions 5 years apart. Test-retest reliability was .94 for the Wonderlic and .96 for the WAIS FSIQ.” Dodrill goes on to state that the two tests were similar “in terms of reliability of clinical classification” but that the Wonderlic based upon the test-retest study had demonstrated fewer practice effects than the WAIS.” The purpose of Dodrill (1983) was to determine the long-term stability of IQ scores of the WPT in comparison with such (FSIQ) tests as the WAIS. The study design was a simple test-retest design that indicated what has already been previously stated as the study’s conclusions which were that the WPT showed similar reliability to the WAIS

Other Factors in the Assessment of Intelligence

This issue of test bias has been around for quite a while and goes to the very heart of not just the measurement of IQ, i.e. intelligence but perhaps the even more important questions of what is intelligence and can it really be measured if there is an unknown and/or unknowable factor involved that no construct can adequately capture or address. As far back as 1974 Schmidt & Walter (1974) would write about racial and ethnic bias in IQ tests and show how the standard IQ tests were used to determine the future options available for the examinees. All too often the less than stellar results on such standard IQ assessments as the Stanford-Binet intelligence assessments, the Wechsler tests, the WPI, or any of the other IQ assessments meant that due to the low level of performance on such assessments the future of African-American youth and as well as the children of other minorities was to a large extent now pre-determined due to the opportunities that would now be closed off to them owing to such sub-par performance. The points made by Schmidt & Hunter are worth examining in regard to what they have to say about the need for some sort or selection criteria to be used by colleges, universities, businesses, governments, etc. for admissions and hiring. According to these two authors, at the time the article was written there were two principle arguments being made along the following lines: Cleary (1996) as cited by Schmidt & Hunter, p.1-
“A test is biased for members of a subgroup of the population if, in the prediction of a criterion for which the test was designed, consistent nonzero errors of prediction are made for members of that subgroup.”

In other words, the test is biased if the criterion
score predicted from the common regression line is considerable to high or too low for members of the subgroup. With this definition of bias, there may be a connotation of “unfair,” particularly if the use of the test produces a prediction that is too low. If the test is used for selection, members of the subgroup may be rejected when they were capable of adequate performance.

Schmidt & Hunter contrast the following theory put forward by Thorndike (1971)-
“Thorndike’s definition holds that a test used for educational or employment selection is fair only if, for any given criterion of success, the tests admits or selects the same proportion of minority applicants that would be admitted or selected by selection on the criterion itself or on a perfectly valid test. For example, if it is known, based on past experience, that 37% of minority applicants equal or exceed the average majority group member(s) in actual performance on the job or in the educational institution, and if the selection ratio is such as to admit 50% of the majority applicants, the test must admit 37% of the minority members to be considered fair.”

Although these arguments do seem arcane, tedious, and maybe even pointless to some the amount of energy and passion expended in regard to the whole argument of test bias, is an indication of just how explosive such issues of fairness can be and what might be the end result of decades of anger and resentment about being shoved aside so that unqualified minorities can be given an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of what African-American’s call “White skin privilege” and the benefits that ensue from such! Be that as it may, the point that Schmidt & Hunter make is that even if tests are done away and are replaced with standard interviews, bias will still continue to play an active role in the parceling out of opportunities to both the majority and minority members. These two authors indicate based upon their research and that of others that the testing process as “rotten” as it may seem in the eyes of some, actually does provide the best model of predictive validity for colleges, universities, businesses, and government seeking qualified candidates who will be successful and productive contributors to their endeavor.

With Flauger (1978), this issue that he raises in regard to test bias is that there are many different types of bias and that the reason why minorities vent so much misdirected anger at test publishers is because they are “overinterpreting” the results. By claiming that all achievement and abilities tests are bias, minority members are not just overinterpreting the results but using such overinterpretation as a means of refusing to accept responsibility for what they themselves can change if they take the test results seriously for what they really are. Flauger suggests that all too frequently minority group members are using such claims of bias as a kind of surrogate for other issues of injustice that may affect their community and thoughtlessly (because unconsciously) blaming the test designers who in Flaugher’s opinion actually are doing minority group members a service by pointing out those areas of low preparedness and achievement that they can only begin to address, if and when such minority group members begin to see ability assessments for what they really are not what their imagination is overinterpreting as some kind of condemnation of them personally and/or their particular minority group as a whole.

The Question of Genius

George D. Stoddard was the former president of (NYU) New York University, chancellor of Long Island University, and a recipient of the G. Stanley Hall Award from the American Psychological Association. In chapter XII: “Concepts of Genius” of his book, The Meaning of Intelligence, what he says regarding genius curiously echoes the theory of such proffered by the English historian Thomas Carlyle. According to Stoddard (1943), p.299-

“An extreme love for humanity can be combined with an ordinary ability to master difficult and complex affairs. There are turning points in history when a supreme example carried to the point of martyrdom will raise a man to the rank of social genius, within his era or thereafter. Sympathy, courage, vitality, character, and appreciation of the beautiful, on occasion, hold a high place in the furtherance of human aspirations; under the right circumstances they lead to a cultural contribution surpassing purely intellectual achievements. The glory of the race lies in its great minds and in its great hearts.”

Indeed, that is a curiously interesting definition of genius for the reason that Stoddard suggests that the mind/brain alone may not be the sole repository of that highly elusive quality that we tend to just assume is a quality of mind. The heart, the soul, and the spirit all seem to be synonymous with this elusive quality that is maybe bigger than the brain (but not the mind) that Stoddard is attributing some aspect of genius to. Perhaps the only scientific theory that can do justice to what Stoddard is alluding to would be the various theories of multiple intelligences chief of which would be the theory of Howard Gardner and the last two theoretical constructs that are interpersonal intelligence & intrapersonal intelligence that curiously enough Gardner and others have suggested constitute the self looking outward and/or the self looking inward. One can hardly think of a less likely recipe for genius other than Gardner’s body-kinesthetic intelligence. Perhaps, genius is so difficult to define in the abstract and why it is so elusive is because generally speaking we (as humans) are forever looking for it in all the wrong places. Certainly the idea of the white lab coated scientist with Einstein as its exemplar qualifies as case in point for what the architype seems to suggest to us. After reading Stoddard’s description of such that may or may not have been influenced by the philosophical musing the the English historian Thomas Carlyle, two or three names come to mind almost immediately. Those names are Malcolm X and Martin Luther King.

As if to add emphasis to this point Stoddard states on p. 300 the following-

“The fragmentary evidence available on the childhood of great contributors to human progress leads to the supposition that, as a rule, they would have done well on intelligence tests, and that their outstanding potentialities would have been clearly revealed in measures centering in the nine attributes. Characteristically the great artist is a man of great ideas, and this can be said of the engineer, architect, musician, or humanitarian. But, at any level of creative work, strength of feeling, rightness of attitude, and a long-time devotion to ideals may have polarized an organism whose attracting powers were at first ordinary.”

As the scientist increasingly applies his special methodology in evaluating laws, customs, and politics, he will recognize in the world today a shortage of complex intellects that are well-disposed. However, the kind of abstracting ability that operates within the limits of a predetermined scientific procedure is reasonably abundant

Simonton & Song (2009), is another study of the theoretical concept of genius based largely upon the previous work done in regard to the classification of such by the renowned Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman who published a multivolume study in 1925 entitled Genetic Studies of Genius. It was Terman who in 1916 had launched a completely revamped version of the Binet Test created by Alfred Binet in Paris with funding from the French Ministry of Education as the first in the series of Stanford-Binet Intelligence Assessments that are still in use today as the most widely used and recognized IQ test in the world. Genetic Studies of Genius is a five volume work, but according to Simonton & Song, the second volume does not list Terman as the author but rather Catherine Cox. According to Simonton & Song, p.430- “Although Cox’s (1926) magnum opus is titled The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses, she actually studied 301. This sample was composed of two groups. The main group consisted of 282 creators and leaders who were the primary subjects of the data analysis.” Simonton & Song then go on to explain that the other group that Cox studied were a group of 19 historical figures who use had been necessary for an initial pilot study that was necessary in order to properly calibrate the procedures that Cox intended to use in the much larger study. Multiple regression analysis was used by Cox to predict the childhood IQ of these 282 “eminences” who were separated into 10 different groups based upon the nature of their achievements. The 10 classification categories that Cox used were the following: politicians, revolutionaries, commanders, religious leaders, scientists, philosophers, informative writers, imaginative writers, composers, artists. In publishing for the first time the results of Cox’s The Early Mental Traits of Three Hundred Geniuses, Simonton & Song listed in the “Discussion” section of their research report the conclusion of Cox’s unpublished study. The first conclusion was that there was an indirect relationship between physical health and mental health. In their words- “…although achieved eminence was not a function of either health indicator, eminence was a function of IQ, and the latter was a positive function of mental health and a negative function of physical health.” While this may seem confusing it seems to suggest that these individuals with high IQs were willing or somehow compelled by the nature of their own genius to sacrifice their physical health either in pursuit of eminence or that probably they valued it less than the other goals that they were drive to achieve due to the nature of their genius.

Simonton & Song claimed that there was one domain of the 10 that Cox had chosen for classification purposes of classification that was the lowest in terms of mental health and that was the class of imaginative writers that included poets, novelists, and dramatists. According to Simonton & Song- “Yet this group displays unusually high rates of adult psychopathology (Ludwig, 1995; see also Jamison, 1993: as cited by Simonton & Song), so this adverse effect implies that this unfortunate personal trajectory begins at a very early age.”

Protzko, Kaufman, & Shenk (2011), is a review of a book entitled The Genius in us all: Why everything you’ve been told about genetics, talant, and IQ is wrong. According to the reviewers, Shenk’s book will make most people feel good because according to the author “genes are reactive to the environment in what is a constant interaction between nature and nurture.” While the reviewers are happy to concede that such an interaction does indeed occur they make a point of stating that-“In fact, there is actually no evidence for a G x E (Genes x Environment) interaction in the heritability of IQ. The work of Fischbein (1980) and Eric Turkheimer and his colleagues (2003), on which Shenk bases some of the data on such interactions, does not provide evidence for such an interaction.” The reviewers conclude that what Shenk is offering up to the public as an unbiased examination of the role that genes and the environment play in regard to the social construct of genius, is not an unbiased picture at all but one that picks and choses carefully what studies to include and/or cite in order to defend the author’s preconceived ideas on the nature of genetics and the environment.

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About charlesknause

I was born in Camden, N.J. (now the poorest city in America) in 1950 and grew up in a beautiful old Victorian town in South Jersey called Collingswood. I now live in Ormond Beach, FL where the weather suits my spirit. My personal life was impacted at an early point in my life by a psychiatric diagnosis that changed my life and put me on the workers scrap heap. I have refused to accept such a miserable fate and today consider myself a social activist dedicated to changing the way that people who have been diagnosed with a serious psychiatric disability are perceived by society and the people in their community. I have a B.S. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Central Florida and 18 graduate credits in Mental Health Counseling from Stetson University in DeLand, FL as well as 24 graduate credits in an MSW program at UCF. I am a member of the Volusia County Behavioral Health Care Providers Consortium where I function as an advocate. I am a daily reader of the World Socialist Website and an occasional contributor.
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