Why IQ tests don't test intelligence

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March 7,1997

Why IQ tests don't test intelligence

The task of trying to quantify a person's intelligence has been a goal of

psychologists since before the beginning of this century. The Binet-Simon scales were

first proposed in 1905 in Paris, France and various sorts of tests have been evolving ever

since. One of the important questions that always comes up regarding these tools is what

are the tests really measuring? Are they measuring a person's intelligence? Their ability

to perform well on standardized tests? Or just some arbitrary quantity of the person's IQ?

When examining the situations around which these tests are given and the content of the

tests themselves, it becomes apparent that however useful the tests may be for

standardizing a group's intellectual ability, they are not a good indicator of intelligence.

To issue a truly standardized test, the testing environment should be the same for

everyone involved.

If anything has been learned from the psychology of perception, it is

clear that a person's environment has a

great deal to do with their cognitive abilities. Is the light

flickering? Is the paint on the walls an unsettling shade? Is the temperature too hot or too

cold? Is the chair uncomfortable? Or in the worst case, do they have an illness that day?

To test a person's mind, it is necessary to utilize their body in the process. If everyone's

body is placed in different conditions during the testing, how is it

expected to get standardized results across all the subjects? Because of this assumption

that everyone will perform equally independent of their environment, intelligence test

scores are skewed and cannot be viewed as standardized, and definitely not as an example

of a person's intelligence.

It is obvious that a person's intelligence stems from a variety of...