September 14, 2011
Intelligence Testing Intelligence is defined as the ability to learn, reason, understand, plan, communicate, and comprehend. Many ideas about what elements and abilities make up intelligence have been influenced by the history of intelligence testing. In 1905, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon devised the first intelligence test for school children. The test was created to help the French government identify young people who would have difficulty with schoolwork (Kaufman & Singer, 2004). Since then, other theories have been created and developed to measure intelligence. Some theories have been developed by Charles Spearman, Louis Thurstone, and Howard Garner. Each of these men has helped to pave the way for improving the concept and validity of testing intelligence (Gottfredson & Saklofske, 2009). Measuring intelligence is a complex process that produces a numerical score; that score is known as the intelligence quotient (IQ). Wilhelm Stern was a German psychologist who first coined the term intelligence quotient (Kaufman & Singer, 2004). The effectiveness of intelligence testing is an ongoing debate that has sparked a large amount of controversy. Intelligence testing is constantly evolving and has its share of critics and supporters (Kaufman & Singer, 2004).
Intelligence Testing Defined The theory for successful intelligence includes three aspects: analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence. Analytical intelligence is required to solve problems, creative intelligence is required to formulate good problems and solutions, and practical intelligence is needed for the use of every day ideas and plans (Kaufman & Singer, 2004). The study of intelligence involves almost all areas of psychology and other sciences such as neurobiology and behavior genetics. The study of intelligence has expanded the views of what intelligence is, how intelligence develops, and the multiple variables that influence intelligence (Gottfredson & Saklofske, 2009).
Theories of Intelligence Testing In the beginning of the 1900s, French psychologist Alfred Binet was asked to create a test of intelligence that would distinguish between those children who were unsuccessful in school because they were genuinely very low in intelligence and those children who were unsuccessful because they showed problems in their social behavior. Binet and his colleague, psychologist Theodore Simon, created a test that measured children’s word knowledge, their ability to perform basic arithmetic operations, and their ability to see the similarities and differences between words and pictures. Binet and Simon’s test was referred to as an intelligence test (Folsom, 2006). Theories of intelligence from the early 1900s and more recent theories emphasize the kinds of abilities Binet and Simon tested as central to intelligence (Gottfredson & Saklofske, 2009). Binet and Simon’s intelligence test was a breakthrough. The test asked young people questions geared toward their age; the questions not only relied on the senses but also on memory, reasoning, and comprehension skills (Folsom, 2006). Charles Spearman, an English psychologist, viewed the ability to see the differences and similarities between words and pictures as one important aspect of intelligence. Spearman described a concept referred to as general intelligence, or the g factor. Spearman used a technique called factor analysis to examine and analyze several mental aptitude tests and found that the scores were very similar (Schlinger, 2003). Spearman concluded that intelligence is a general cognitive ability that could be measured and numerically scored. Spearman believed that the common denominator or underlying factor that tied the tests together was the g factor. Spearman also believed that an individual’s general intelligence was inherited and was somehow represented in the physiology of the