Intelligence Tests essay

The controversy that exists about intelligence testing stemmed from the known publication of 1994 The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life by Richard J. Herrnstein and Charles Murray. It caused a great reactive force in the face of intellectual elite, namely 50 professors, issuing a letter defending the netivistic theories of intelligence testing. According to nativistic theory, the human intelligence is described as “qualitatively unique quality” that can be measured and calculated.

Thus the need for testing. The deeper thought would offer an inquiry in to by what means this “qualitatively unique quality” has developed. How come, suggestible, one has the same of bigger or lesser size? What is responsible for the size of this “quality? ” Is the size (or perhaps capacity) nature or nurture caused? If we use our language to express our intelligence, what about immigrants who have inadequate ability for the dominant language?

Would they necessarily be classified as of low intelligence by standardized intelligence instruments? I new a former professor once in his 50s, washing dishes in a small restaurant in New York, just because he could not pass those intelligence testing requirements. Such a waste of talent and abilities! If we consider that Intelligence Quotient indicates the capacity to learn then we must look into the qualifications behind learning, or what precisely is understood by learning.

However, when we discuss the learning ability the precise definition is needed. It is not exactly clear what we are discussing: is it ability to comprehend visual information; is it ability to comprehend auditory information, is it ability to understand the social cues, is it ability to communicate understood information in writing; is it ability to communicate understood information verbally… the list can go on and on.

All in all, I view and define the learning ability as a conglomerate of all components that are needed to a) understand the percepts, b) retain the chemical/visual constructs that we loosely so call Visiospacial Memory Unit, VMU, c) facilitate VMU to encode it with the language characteristics to get it ready for communication, and d) have communication qualities, i. e. writing skills, speaking skills, vocabulary skills, controlled body language skills, et cetera.

The whole gamut of this range encompasses what we considered prior as the continuum of Encoding – Retention – Retrieval mechanism each of which is partially responsible for the manifestation of learning ability. Now, two components of the above-defined conglomerate, a) understand the percepts and d) have communication qualities, i. e. writing skills, speaking skills, vocabulary skills, controlled body language skills, et cetera, are variables, culturally and socially defined, that are responsible for the variance effect of learning ability from individual to individual.

Simply speaking, micro-culture or the family-influenced learning, defines the interpretation of the environment serving as a filter of the objective reality. That is an individual perceives those components of reality filtered through and with his or her belief system, culturally and socially imposed. Subjective result is not perceived as unique but rather perceived as objective and accurate representation of the reality. The percepts construct VMU that is encoded as a chemical/visual synthesized structure within the individual’s Long Term Memory, LTM.

The retrieval process decodes that structure into culturally and socially biased language characteristics with the author’s belief in objectivity of communication. The key and the emphasis here are culturally and socially biased. If learning ability and expression of it is subjectively biased then we cannot standardize testing to assess such subjectively based quality, and especially is the testing is conducted not in the native language of the one being tested.

Thus, the “objective” data or representation of objective reality and the construct of its ability representation (IQ results) has two chances to be “corrupted” in the beginning of the testing continuum (comprehension) and at the end of it (expression). We should not argue the point that cultural and social characteristics bring about much subjectivity to the IQ testing. Learned and practiced, such bias changes the data to suit the unique perspective of the testee.

Representatives of different cultures view the objective reality from different perspectives and that is due to the culturally influenced upbringing imposed by macro-culture. On another note, contrary to Terry (2006, page 371), I am not buying into the perspective of the biological determinants of the variance in learning ability. Certainly, some biological factors might play a role in the above-mentioned continuum, but such cannot be generalized.

One cannot find most profound a conclusion as Rose wrote: “We do not uniformly react to environmental situations, nor do the situations we encounter “just happen. ” We actively seek opportunities to develop and display our dispositional characteristics, so adult personality differences reflect, not fixed consequences of hereditary variance, but interactive processes of lifestyle selection. With rare exceptions (e. g.

Huntington’s Disease), genes do not mandate life outcomes. Less than half the variance observed in typical behavioral phenotypes is attributable to heritable effects, and those effects are largely indirect, from gene-environment interactions and correlations. ” Neither, I believe that the gender-defined determinants are statistically significant. Although, not completely rejected, these filter-attributes can play only a minor role in the variance.

On the other hand, we process the environmentally presented data with the cultural and social biases learned from early childhood and bound by the same members of the extended family. Thus, the question, “What do intelligence tests really assess? ”


Rose, R. J. (1995). Genes and human behavior. Annual Review of Psychology, (46). Schlinger, H. D. (2003). The myth of intelligence. The Psychological Record, 53(1), 15+. Terry, W. S. (2006). Learning and memory: Basic principles, processes, and procedures (3rd ed. ). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.