IQ Discrimination the Concept of General Ability Term Paper

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IQ Discrimination

The concept of general ability or intelligence has in the past been the most important single way of accounting for individual differences. IQ (Intelligence quotient) is usually assessed by measuring performances on a test of a number of different skills, using tasks that emphasize reasoning and problem solving in a number of different areas. Early assessments of IQ were done in France by Alfred Binet in 1905, as part of an attempt to identify children who needed specialist help to make educational progress. Interest in IQ testing continued in the U.S. By researchers such as Louis Terman.

IQ was thought to be fixed in these early years and so was often used in education in an attempt to predict children's future academic progress with different levels of measured intelligence being taken to imply the need for different forms of educational experiences. More able children are supposed to need abstract and academic experiences, with an accelerated rate of progress. Less able children on the other hand, are supposed to need more direct, practical experiences with a slower rate of learning. Children were classified using such terms as "educationally sub-normal," "mentally defective," "feeble-minded."

IQ assessments have also been used to indicate a child's potential for learning. When IQ matches achievement, then children are said to be fulfilling their potential. When there is a discrepancy and achievement is below potential level then the child is thought to have specific problem. The most common problem associated with mis-matched achievement potential is dyslexia.

However, research indicates only a limited relationship between IQ measure and performance on academic skills. In addition, there are many other factors to be considered in the relationship between IQ and academic performance, for example, motivation of the student, concentration level (including while taking the test). There may also seem to be a correlation between IQ and academic achievements because both of these rely heavily on (and therefore are both influenced by) the student's verbal ability.

Race is one of these factors that have been used as a basis for comparison of intellectual abilities and to support stereotypical judgments. Those who believe that intelligence is largely inherited support the view that African-Americans in particular have a lower intellectual potential than European heritage people. This conclusion comes partly from the belief that African-Americans are genetically inferior as a race. This view has been challenged. Chiacchia (2001) reports estimates of genes accounting for 30-80% of intelligence. Environment, including pre-birth factors, accounts for the rest. The major argument is that IQ tests tend to be based on and reflect white, middle-class culture that is not familiar to other ethnic groups. Some items on the tests depend on specific experiences and knowledge that may not be familiar to the child from an ethnic minority growing up in an impoverished inner-city area. IQ tests need to be revised to more accurately reflect all cultures and backgrounds if they are to be used with all groups of children.

It is important to note that recent reports indicate a rise in the average scores of African-Americans and that the IQ gap between African-Americans and U.S. whites has been closing. At the same time there is a noticed improvement in the environment of African-Americans in the past ten years. Other tests have shown a difference in IQ among different groups of black children- those brought up in white families, those with more European ancestry, Caribbean culture, etc. This adds to the conclusion that the environment plays a great part in IQ.

Another factor of comparison of IQs has been gender. For long it has also been believed that males are intellectually more superior to females. Consequently, males have been encouraged to pursue further academic goals than females. In particular males dominated the fields of Math and Science. However, recent research is showing that females are scoring better than males in the areas of Reading achievement and Writing skills. Klienfeld (1998) summarizes the beliefs in four areas-: 1. In the general population the sex differences on standardized tests of achievement are small. 2. among select groups of higher achieving young people, females have advanced in reading achievement and writing skills. 3. males are more variable than females in many characteristics. (their Bell Curve of IQ has more males at the extremes whereas the female bell curve has a higher peak in the middle).4. males are more apt to show up at the bottom of the heap, i.e. they are more represented in special education classes, but also more represented at the top of the heap. Klienfeld also presents data to show that although females surpass males in the two areas (reading and writing), whites surpassed blacks by a wider margin in all four areas. She however concludes that sex differences in intellectual achievement are rooted in both biological and cultural influences.

IQ scores are still being used as a measure of capability or potential, even though there is so much controversy over its validity and reliability. The association of IQ with race or gender is difficult to remove. Perhaps until the debate about the influence of genetics and environment is cleared up, there will remain in the minds of some the notion that whites are smarter than blacks, Hispanics or Asians and that males naturally perform better than females in some areas. If these minority groups are given the same encouragement and opportunities for academic achievement and advancement then they may perform as well as whites in schools.


Chiacchia, Kenneth B. Race and intelligence. Gale Encyclopedia of Psychology. Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

Klienfled, Judith (1998). The myth that schools shortchange girls: social science in the service of deception. Retrieved from the World Wide Web,

Are mental disorders really medical disorders?

The term 'mental disorder' generally refers to any condition resulting from a non-functioning or dysfunction of part of the brain. This fact alone, that they involve a part of the body, indicates that they are medical disorders. There are other issues to consider when comparing mental disorders to medical disorders especially how they are diagnosed and treated. Parallels can be found here. In addition most mental disorders are accompanied by physical symptoms.

Anyone can develop a mental illness. Some disorders are mild; others are serious and long lasting. These conditions can be diagnosed and treated, including with psychotherapeutic treatments. Most people live better lives after treatment. Some of the specific mental disorders to be examined here include, anxiety disorders (e.g. post traumatic stress disorder and obsessive- compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, depression, and schizophrenia. All of these disorders must be diagnosed and treated by a professional. It is interesting to note that psychiatry, which is involved in the treatment and diagnosis of these and other mental disorders, is a branch of the medical sciences. The treatment of most mental disorders can either be chemical (drugs) or psychotherapy or a combination of both.

In order to properly answer the question it is important to examine some of the more common mental disorders A closer look at the causes of these mental disorders will help to decide whether they are in fact medical disorders.


People suffering from this group of biologically-based mental illnesses feel anxious almost all the time with no discernible reason and can become paralyzed to their own nervousness. The common anxiety disorders include panic attacks, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. Panic attacks are characterized by such physical symptoms as heart palpitations, sweating, trembling chest pains and nausea. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is characterized by persistently intrusive and inappropriate thoughts, impulses or images that run through one's mind (obsession) and repetitive behavior that one feels he must do (compulsion). Posttraumatic stress disorder results form experiencing or witnessing a violent or tragic act that results in feelings of intense fear, helplessness or horror.

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill fact sheet ( reports that new research suggests that these disorders both run in families and are the results of one's brain chemistry. Both medication and talk therapy have been used to treat anxiety disorders.


Bipolar disorder, or manic depression, is a disorder of the brain resulting in episodes of mania and depression. It is a chronic condition with recurring episodes and generally requires ongoing treatment. Researchers have uncovered a genetic link to the illness. Close relatives of someone with the disorder are more likely to be affected by the disease; but not everyone with the genetic predisposition will become ill.


Depression is a bio-psychosocial disorder that can be caused by diverse psychological and physiological mechanisms. The symptoms that doctors and therapists use to diagnose depression are the result of alteration in the brain chemistry. Marano (1999) states that depression is not just a chemical imbalance. The newest evidence indicates that recurrent depression is in fact a neuro-degenerative disorder, disrupting the structure and function of brain cells, destroying nerve cell connections, even killing certain brain cells and precipitating cognitive decline. In depression faulty circuitry fails both in generating positive feelings and…

Sources Used in Document:


Bates, Steve. (2002). Personality counts: psychological tests can help peg the job applicants best suited for certain jobs. HR Magazine. Feb. 2002

Flynn, Gillian. (2002). A legal examination of testing. Workforce. June 2002

Newitz, Annalee. (2000). The personality paradox. Industry Stand. October, 2000.

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