The Concept of Intelligence and Testing for it Research Paper

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Intelligence/Personality Tests

The concept of intelligence and the practice (and practicality) of testing for intelligence has been one of the more controversial areas of psychology and psychometrics since the first tests were developed and administered a century ago. Far from there being a consensus in the scientific community on exactly what makes up intelligence, the list of characteristics that comprise intelligence has instead been a matter of extreme and ongoing debate. Measuring intelligence in individuals has found an even greater share of disagreement and controversy. Even when researchers are able to agree on what aspects should be measured to develop an accurate picture of intelligence, the methods proposed and implemented for testing these areas have often been widely disputed. The controversy surrounding intelligence testing reached new heights in the era of cultural diversity, as it became clear that the standard intelligence tests in use for the better part of the twentieth century had an inherent bias in favor of white, Euro-centric thinking, to the detriment of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

Nonetheless, there are several standard working definitions of intelligence that while not perfect by any stretch of the imagination have still proven consistent and reliable enough to produce tests that measure intelligence with some accuracy. One widely used definition of intelligence from the American Psychological Association includes the ability to understand complex thoughts, adapt to environments, learn from experience, and engage in various types of reasoning. This definition makes it incredibly clear that intelligence is not a simple phenomenon such as how "smart" someone is, but rather there is a wide and varied set of considerations that must be taken into account in order to arrive at an idea of "true" intelligence -- a feat which the American Psychological Association says has still not yet occurred.

According to many other authorities, even the above definition is not inclusive enough to determine true intelligence, even if things such as cultural bias were not an issue. Creativity is one of the most common and most disputed additions to definitions of intelligence. Not only is the concept of creativity at least as difficult to define as intelligence, but measuring creativity through the use of standardized test is entirely antithetical to the idea of creativity. Other problems with measurements of intelligence -- other than simple cultural, gender, and even personal differences in what should be perceived as necessary constituent parts of intelligence -- include how to design a test that does not depend on any pre-existing knowledge, or knowledge of a certain language. These can often be counted as part of cultural barriers to fair and accurate testing, but at times these problems appear even within a single culture.

Despite these difficulties, several tests purported to measure intelligence have existed for the better part of a century, and continued adjustment and redefinition of intelligence and the tests themselves has led to a more and more accurate picture of intelligence. Among the first of these tests to be developed was the Stanford-Binet test of an individual's intelligence quotient, or IQ. Other tests have largely followed the same model, containing a series of questions that involve verbal ability, mathematical reasoning, and patter recognition among other common areas of intelligence. There are also less scientific intelligence tests that can be better at measuring certain types of creative thinking and social proficiency, and many examples of these tests can be found online.

The first intelligence test that I took online was a thirty question timed test modeled on the Stanford-Binet IQ tests. This test can be found at ( This test was much more closely aligned with the American Psychological Association's definition of intelligence, measuring pattern recognition, spatial awareness, mathematical reasoning, and verbal ability. Basically, the view of intelligence measured in this test (and defined by the American Psychological Association) relates to how effectively and efficiently an individual is able to interact with, learn from, and manipulate the external world (including such intangible things as information). Many would point out that creativity is also a large part of this ability, but the test did not really measure for this. At the same time, the test did ot set out to measure creativity, so its omission in no way affects the test's reliability, though it may cast some doubt on its validity.

The validity of this test is as much in question as the definition of intelligence, and for the same reasons. Because creativity isn't measured, it could reasonably…[continue]

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