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Survey of Modern Psychology. IQ Testing and Learning Disabilities. The Beginnings of IQ Testing. In 1904, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon created the first IQ test

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survey of modern psychology

Survey of Modern Psychology

IQ Testing and Learning Disabilities

the beginnings of iq testing
The Beginnings of IQ Testing
  • In 1904, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon created the first IQ test
    • A new law in France said that all children had to attend school, and the government wanted a way to identify children who needed remedial help
the beginnings of iq testing1
The Beginnings of IQ Testing

Features of the Binet-Simon test:

  • Interpreted scores as an estimate of current performance, not innate intelligence
  • They wanted the scores to be used to identify children who needed help, not to label children as smart or dumb
  • Emphasized that training and opportunity could affect intelligence and they wanted to identify areas of performance in which special education could help children identified by the test
  • The test was constructed empirically – based on observed performance - rather than a particular definition of intelligence
the beginnings of iq testing2
The Beginnings of IQ Testing

IQ tests became popular in America in the early 1900s

  • There was a big increase in immigration and the public wanted a way to classify people
  • New laws required universal education, and schools wanted a way to determine who could and could not benefit from education
  • When WWI began, the army wanted a way to separate those who could benefit from military training from those who could not

IQ tests were largely used as a way to discriminate and reinforce prejudices/stereotypes


The impact of



IQ tests

stanford binet
  • Measured different abilities at different levels
  • Looked at a person’s chronological age vs. their mental age
  • A common criticism was that the test measured different skills at different ages
    • 2-4 year olds were tested on their ability to manipulate objects while adults were tested almost exclusively on verbal items
      • While it would be unreasonable to test a very young child on verbal skills, it is also not appropriate to not test adults on coordination
stanford binet1
  • Another criticism was that the test used the formula:

IQ = (Mental Age / Chronological Age) * 100

  • A person could have a normal level of functioning for an adult and the numerator would stay constant, but the denominator would increase
  • Therefore, an elderly person would appear to have an overly low IQ
theories of intelligence
Theories of Intelligence

Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences:

  • Linguistic intelligence: Often measured on traditional IQ tests by vocabulary tests and reading comprehension
  • Logical – mathematical intelligence: Also measured on most IQ tests with analogies, math problems, and logic problems
  • Spatial intelligence: The ability to mental images of objects and to think about their relationships in space
gardner s multiple intelligences
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences
  • Musical intelligence: the ability to perform, compose, and appreciate musical patterns, including patterns of rhythms and pitches
  • Bodily – kinesthetic intelligence: the ability for controlled movement and coordination, such as that needed by a dancer or surgeon
  • Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand other people's intentions, emotions, motives, and actions, as well as to work effectively with others
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to know oneself, to develop a satisfactory sense of identity, and to regulate one’s life
modern iq tests
Modern IQ Tests
  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)
  • Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC)

Results on these tests are highly correlated with academic performance and achievement

These tests measure skills that are assumed to be components of intelligence and on a variety of tasks

wais and wisc

These tests assess two forms of intelligence: Verbal and Performance

verbal scales verbal comprehension index
Verbal ScalesVerbal Comprehension Index
  • Vocabulary
    • Receptive and expressive vocabulary
    • Ex. defining words
  • Similarities
    • Verbal abstract reasoning and conceptualization abilities
    • Ex. How are a snake and alligator alike?
similarity examples
Similarity Examples

Which letter on the right belongs to the same category as the one on the left?

  • J A M S Z T
  • A S D U V X
similarity examples1
Similarity Examples

Which letter on the right belongs to the same category as the one on the left?

  • J A M S Z T

S, because it’s the only letter with a curve in it

  • A S D U V X

U, because it’s the only vowel

verbal scales verbal comprehension index1
Verbal ScalesVerbal Comprehension Index
  • Information
    • Similar to trivial pursuit
    • Measures knowledge of factual information, and strongly influenced by culture
  • Comprehension
    • Understanding of social conventions and common sense
    • Also culturally loaded – ex. “What should you do if you find an injured person laying on the sidewalk?”
verbal scales working memory index
Verbal ScalesWorking Memory Index
  • Arithmetic
    • Mental performance of mathematical word problems
    • Measures attention, concentration, and numeric reasoning
  • Digit span
    • Requires the repetition of number strings forwards and backwards
    • Measures concentration, attention, and immediate memory
    • People with attention deficits or anxiety tend to get lower scores
  • Letter – number sequencing
    • Ex. Repeat the sequence Q-1-B-3-J-2, but place the numbers in numerical order and then the letters in alphabetical order
performance scales perceptual organization
Performance ScalesPerceptual Organization
  • Picture completion
    • Requires recognition of the missing parts in pictures
    • Measures visual perception, long term visual memory, and the ability to differentiate essential from inessential details
performance scales perceptual organization1
Performance ScalesPerceptual Organization
  • Block design
    • Considered one of the strongest measures of nonverbal intelligence and reasoning
    • Colored blocks are put together to make designs
performance scales perceptual organization2
Performance ScalesPerceptual Organization

Matrix reasoning

  • Untimed test which measures abstract nonverbal reasoning ability
  • Consists of a sequence or group of designs and the individual being tested is required to fill in a missing design from a number of choices
performance scales processing speed
Performance ScalesProcessing Speed
  • Digit Symbol coding
    • Symbols are matched with numbers or shapes according to a key
    • The individual is asked to put the appropriate symbol under digits in a sequence based on the key
    • Measures visual – motor speed and short term visual memory
performance scales processing speed1
Performance ScalesProcessing Speed

Symbol search

  • The individual scans images and determines whether a target symbol is in that array
performance scales
Performance Scales
  • Picture arrangement
    • Requires that pictures be arranged in order to tell a story
    • Measures nonverbal understanding of social interaction and ability to reason sequentially
  • Object assembly
    • Consists of jigsaw puzzles
    • Measures visual-spatial abilities and ability to see how parts make up a whole
learning disabilities1
Learning Disabilities

Learning disabilities are defined by a disturbance in a skill that significantly interferes with academic achievement or activities of daily living that require that skill

Wechsler said that a learning disability should be diagnosed if scores on performance scales are more than 15 points (1 standard deviation) apart

learning disabilities2
Learning Disabilities
  • Learning disabilities do not mean that the person is stupid
  • For example, on page 5 of the handout note that in the August 1998 testing the verbal IQ is 130 – two standard deviations above the mean and in the 98% percentile
  • The performance IQ is 110 – in the high end of the average range and the 75% percentile
problems with the wais
Problems with the WAIS
  • Vocabulary and general knowledge rely heavily on educational background rather than ability
  • Comprehension – there is not necessarily a right or wrong answer, more than one answer may be logical
problems with the wais1
Problems with the WAIS
  • For example, the question “What is the thing to do if you find an envelope in the street that is sealed and addressed and has a new stamp?”
    • The correct answer, worth 2 points, is to mail it or bring it to the post office
    • The score drops to 1 point with the answer of recognizing that it belongs to someone else and giving it to a police man
    • Suggesting opening it because there may be money in the envelope is a score of zero points. It is not an inherently “wrong” answer and does suggest a form of logic, but it is socially unacceptable
problems with the wais2
Problems with the WAIS
  • Examiners are supposed to treat all people taking the test the same, but it is impossible for the test to be exactly the same every time
  • Some examiners may ask the person taking the test to explain an answer (especially on the comprehension part), others don’t
  • Historically, black people score better on IQ tests when the test is given by a black examiner