IQ Testing – What does Intelligence mean

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According to Webster’s the ability to reason or
understand(Jackson, 1997, p.1). Well, most of us have the ability to reason and
understand, so does that define us as intelligent? Many would argue that different
individuals are intelligent in different areas. In reality, there is not only one answer to
this question. Many different factors play into the question being asked. For example,
psychologists believe that behaviour determines one’s intellect, whereas, others believe
it’s hereditary or environmental. Determining who is right and who is wrong is not of
importance but rather how they came up with each theory, and what is the usefulness of
measuring intelligence.. For one, there is no genetically proven fact that these theories are
factual. Although, through research some points have been supported through statistical
figures. Also, what has been determined has been based on the correlations between a
specific situation and the outcome itself. Consistent studies and the dedication of some
individual were able to note some patterns and eventually develop a formula to help put
intelligence in a better perspective..
In our society, IQ. testing is a misunderstood term, most commonly associated with
how smart a person is, based on their mental capacity or brain size. This misconception
has put a huge emphasis on one’s ability to score high on an intelligence test. When in fact
it does not measure intelligence at all, keeping in mind that our society defines intelligence
as being smart. In fact, all it really shows is a persons aptitude or ability to solve
problems quickly. IQ. testing is nothing more than a tool to help teachers determine
where one is at academically in correlation to where one should be. Also, it shows the
faculty if the educational system is working for the students and if not in what areas they
need to improve on to give the students the best possible education to succeed. With the
average score being at 100 it is common for students or adults to be disappointed for not
scoring above that of which is average. It makes them think that they are mentally
inferior and incapable of success. This feeling also has to do with the parents putting
IQ Testing 2
pressure on their children to score high. Another important point is that colleges have
students take a test called SAT’s to determine which students will be admitted. Test
taking in this situation can determine whether you will receive the best education or settle
for whatever college you get accepted to. Wheras, IQ tests will determine if you are social
accepted or not. Another words, a test can and is blown way out of proportion and
intelligence should not be based solely on a score. Everyone is not the same physically, or
mentally, and keep in mind that everyone learns at a different pace, perceives information
different ways, and this makes all the difference in a not so uniform world. Once again, a
test of any kind can not measure a persons smartness but it can measure aptitude among
children and or adults. When it is put in a more positive way it becomes easier to
understand that it doesn’t measure how smart or dumb you are but how fast or slow of a
learner you are. IQ. tests are, and were originally designed to be nothing more than
devices for generating numbers that are useful in assessing academic aptitude with in a
given culture(Jackson, 1997, p.1). In our society, we base everything on the dominant
society. We want what they have, intelligence, sophistication, the well groomed
appearance, the money and the privilege of being socially accepted. In summary, we want
the prestige that comes with being labelled intelligent and end up believing the
misconception that we are inferior to those that we perceive as intelligent. The problem
also lies with the title of the test, because it is misleading. To us it sounds like the
measurement of our intelligence, why else would they refer to it an intelligence test if it
had nothing to do with it?
Personally, I feel that a person’s environment plays a role in the results of the
intelligence test. There is a correlation between people of the upper class scoring higher
than the lower class people. This has truth to it because upper class families were able to
give their children good school education which better prepared them for tests such as IQ.
testing or SAT’s. On the other hand, people of the lower class were at a disadvantage IQ
IQ Testing 3
because they could not afford to send their children to private schools. Although public
schools are not all bad, they are over crowded and lack in the individual attention given
to students of better education. Persons with high IQ. scores we hear about, and
everyone else is grouped as average. Our society, divides everything into categories into
upper,(smart) middle,(above average) and lower(below average) classes. Or, it can be
better described as the haves and the have nots.
The answer to What is measured by Intelligence tests? is irrelevant what we
should be asking is who’s intelligence are we being compared to? If we must answer this
question, there are those who claim that it reveals more about one’s ability to do
crossword puzzles(Liungman,1977, p. 6). Of course, this is not entirely true, but does
have some truth to it. It becomes difficult to explain the detailed formulas that explain
the scientific part of it, but what is of more value is one’s creativity. Creativity means
the capacity to create in the most general sense, the ability to arrive at how solutions to
new problems or to old, unsolved problems, the ability to make things happen in the way
one wants them to(Liungman,1977, p.6). Our society feels the compulsion to figure
things out, to discover, learn, create, analyze, and categorise. Now, there is no wrong in
that. Learning and discovering new things, is how we have progressed as a human race?
But when you start sorting people into categories it becomes complex, because we are
individuals with different backgrounds and upbringing’s. Tests only prove one thing,
not how much you know , but how much you know that I know. It becomes difficult to
measure one’s capacity when a test fails to take into account the different factors that have
played in peoples lives such as Race, Class, Gender, economic status, quality of education,
among many others.
Two men by the name of Binet and Simon were the first to develop a Intelligence
test. Binet and Simon were commissioned by a committee under the French Ministry of
Education to devise a method of sorting out the children whose mental defects would
IQ Testing 4
prevent them from making use of normal educational facilities(Liungman, 1977, p. 17).
Intelligence tests were not meant to measure intelligence but rather the mental capacity of
children to give them the special schooling they would need to progress. Apparently,
some children were being singled out as slow achievers which lead to the development of
special school for them to attend. A test was needed to determine which children were in
need of special attention. This is where Binet and Simon came in, they developed a test
that is still used today, of coarse, revised to meet changing times. The reason for
developing this intelligence test was they did not want to wrongfully accuse any child of
being a slow learner, soli based on their teachers evaluation. For one, the teachers
themselves did not have the sufficient authority to make the decision even if they knew
the childes progress through their school work and participation. Also, to list a child as
special or a slow learner meant there was a chance of social stigma.
Although Binet and Simon were the first to design a intelligence test, a man by the
name of Galton was directly responsible for making intelligence a scientific and
measurable concept. Galton, believed that intelligence was inherited and could be
measured in terms of speed of mental process(Eyesnck,1981, p.17). Galton was on the
right track and made many contributions to the mystery of intellectual research. Although
Binet, Simon and Galton paved the way for research on the measurement of intelligence
they had opposing opinions on the subject. For instance, Galton as I stated earlier firmly
believed Intelligence is inherited and did not believe the idea that environment had any
importance in the development of individual capacity(Liungman, 1997, p.14). On the
other hand, Binet believed more toward the theory that the Environment played a role in
intelligence just as that of hereditary. These two different opinions lead to two different
theories, one supporting the hereditary side of it and the other environmental side of

IQ Testing 5
Galton, argues that Nature prevails enormously over nurture when the
differences of nurture do not exceed what is commonly to be found among persons of the
same rank in the same country(eyesnck, 1981, p. 29). Another words, Galton could not
deny what seemed to him as the most obvious correlation and that was how people of
relation are similar in characteristics to each other in one form or another. The pattern is
very clear: heritability is nil when the children are only two years old, but increases the
resemblance in IQ is strongly suggestive that the cause of this resemblance is
genetic(Eyesnck, 1981, p.51) Therefore, it must be hereditary for eminent parents to
pass along their genes to their offspring. However, during the ninetieth century, there was
no genetically proven evidence to support his claim. Galton believed this would develop
a intellectually and psychologically superior breed of human beings(Fracher, 34). To
sum it up Galton believed that intelligence was more a biological factor passed through
genes. Galton wanted to develop a society that paired up couples that were considered to
be eminent and have them conceive children in order to prove his theory that intelligence
is hereditary. Unfortunately, Galton or anyone else could not pull off a society based on
utopia. This experiment was far beyond his means at the time but not his imagination.
On the other hand, I tend to agree with Binet who believed that intelligence
develops with age, increasing up to late adolescence and possibly a little later(Eyesnck,
1981, p.37) This theory, is based on experiments and careful studies that show
intelligence advances with age up to young adulthood(Eyesnck, 1981, p. 37). Of
coarse, this make sense because as we get older and mature we learn from our experiences
in our life. Binet, unlike Galton firmly rebuked those who believed that the
intelligence of an individual is a fixed quantity, a quantity that one cannot augment…We
must protest and react against this brutal pessimism(Eysenck, 1981, p. 91). Of coarse
there was no convincing Galton’s followers on the issue. Cyril Burt, was quoted as saying
No amount of teaching will turn the child who is genuinely defective in general
intelligence into a
IQ Testing 6
normal pupil(Eysenck, 1981, p. 94). Let us not forget Helen Keller, a very important
figure who is a role model for women as well as men who over came her disabilities of
deafness and blindness. Helen Keller, under Galton’s theory would have been labelled
defective and incapable of expanding her mental capacity. Whereas, Binet might have
looked passed her disabilities as an obstacle that could be overcome. Binet, believes
persons are educable and worthy of the time and effort to find out rather than give in to
the pessimistic point of view of Galton and of society.
Sternberg, professor of Psychology and Education at Yale University,
believes that successful intelligence is distinct form academic intelligence, and that
academic intelligence does not matter as an indicator of success later in life. Successful
intelligence can be taught. It’s not something with which you happen to be born, but
rather something you pick up along the way through life(Jackson, 1997, p.3). This
statement is for parents and students who believe that IQ tests are detremental to their
success. In fact Sternberg suggests that in order to be successful, will be determined by
the choices we make based on the common sense we posses and the environmental factors
that shape us.
Intelligent tests consists of many different sections for instance, Galton’s believed
there was three methods for measuring intelligence. The first was the medical method,
which looks at the anatomical, physiological, and pathological signs of inferior
intelligence. The second is the pedagogical method, which relies on school-acquired
knowledge to measure intelligence, which is regarded ad the sum of acquired knowledge.
The third s the psychological method, which attempts to rely on direct observation and
measurement intelligent behaviour(Eyesnck 1998, p. 18) .
IQ Tests take many forms for instance in the 1940’s the Swedish government gave
it’s soldier a test in which it show them two targets which had two different groupings.
The first target had a grouping with a scattered pattern. The second target had a grouping
IQ Testing 7
with a straight or a triangular shaped pattern. The reason for this test question, was to see
if the soldiers could spot a good grouping on the target. A grouping is a pattern that the
bullets form when they hit the target.
Other types of tests give you different shaped blocks and may have you form a
square. Next, I will give two verbal examples of IQ problems.

Why are high blocks more often built in towns than in the country? 1) Low houses
are easier to build? 2) Building sites are more expensive in towns. 3) To get more sun in
the top flats. 4) Diseases do not spread as easily in houses where less people live. 5) There
is more space for building in the country than in the towns. 6) It is uncomfortable to live
so close together. Another, example In each of the following series, underline word
which does not belong with the other word in a series 1) Pliers, hammer, nail, saw. 2)
Sabre, revolver, cannon, maching-gun. 3) Train, wheel, bicycle, car. 4) Sail, bicycle, sit,
ride. 5) Table, chair, sofa, picture. 6)See, hear, walk, taste.
Intelligence test results must be reliable. This is essential. At the same time, this
assumes that tintelligenc is an attribute which does not fluctuate from day to day in the
same way as aggression, or determination, or the ability to solve chess
problems(Liungman,1977, p. 34).
Intelligence test, have come a long way as have the true purpose of them. The
farther we go as far technology is concerned, will allow us to be convinced either way and
we won’t have to take sides over the IQ controversy and it will be chosen for us through
technological advances. The important thing is to lay down the misconceptions and
recognize IQ tests as tool used to help not restrict students. We need to rethink our attitude
and give students a chance to redeem themselves. It is generally true that the lower the
intelligence, the more stable it is this is probably largely the result of the community’s
attitude to someone who has once been measured and found to have
IQ Testing 8
below-average intelligence. He is rarely, given a chance to change his status. Another
example, ;;Infants who can be presumed to e capable developing into bright children
should be placed with the most intelligent adoptive parent. The duller children should be
placed with adoptive parents who are not particularly intelligent and who will
consequently not be too disappointed(Lingam, 1977, p. 55). Also, it can help us better
understand the cognitive thinking process through the biological and environmental
arguments that have been contributed from the early studies of Galton, Binet, and Simons.
The hope is, if we better understand ourselves the less likely we will hold on to the
ignorance that we substitute for knowledge.

Carl G. Liungman, (1977). What is IQ? England: Gordon Cremonesi.

Eysenck. H.J., & Leon, K. (1981). The Intelligence Controversy. New York:JOHN

Eysenck. H. J., (1998). A New Look Intelligence. New Jersey: New Brunswick and

Herrnstein, R. J. (1971). IQ In The Meritocracy. Boston-Toronto: Little, Brown and

Jackson, Dr. C. C., (1997) Testing Intelligence

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