Alternatives to the Standard IQ Test
One of the most debated topics about intelligence is how to measure it. While many establishments and organisations have accepted the ‘Intelligence Quotient’ test as the standard method of determining levels of intelligence, there have also been many criticisms and reservations.
Therefore, a number of alternative tests to measure intelligence have been proposed, which try to avoid any biases in the form of testing by including equal elements of logical reasoning, problem-solving, adaptation and critical thinking.
The Standard IQ TestThe IQ test was developed by two French scientist, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon, originally for the purposes of assessing children at school so that mentally-handicapped children or children with behavioural problems could receive adequate and appropriate education.
This initial test measured skills such as comprehension, judgement, problem-solving and reasoning – and is the basis of the standard modern intelligence test.
The original test was subsequently modified for adults at Stanford University in the United States, with the new version being named the Stanford-Binet test and the score it produces called the now famous “intelligence quotient” or IQ.
This test was further modified into the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, which is based on statistical distribution of IQ scores within a population, rather than the old concept of “mental age”. In other words, the scores are based on a group of people representative of a wider population and is graded so that the majority of people fall between IQ’s of 90-110. The test measures a range of different abilities including mathematical, verbal, spatial, memory and reasoning.
Criticisms of the Standard Intelligence TestsMany scientists, psychologists, educators and members of the general public do not believe that the standard IQ test accurately measures intelligence.
They challenge the concept of a ‘general’ intelligence (‘g’) which is universally representative of intelligence levels and measurable by simple verbal and logical skills. They feel that the standard test does not take into account influences from genetics, cultural and social background, even personality of the test-taker.
Critics also feel that there may be serious cultural biases in the development of the standard tests which reduce their validity as a measure of cognitive ability for people of different races.
There is also debate whether intelligence is a fixed quantity that can be measured and whether it actually encompasses a broader conception than what is measured in IQ tests, i.e.. the tests only measure a part of what is commonly understood as “intelligence”. All people have unique strengths and weaknesses in different areas, whereas these tests tend to over-emphasise the general ability, “g”. Finally, several psychologists believe that there are multiple intelligences which cannot be measured.
Standard tests are also often inappropriate for children with mental development problems, such as autism, since the skills measured (e.g.. adaptive) are poor indicators of intelligence in such children and have resulted in the incorrect assumption that most children with autism are mentally retarded.
Alternative Intelligence TestsGiven these criticisms, a number of alternative intelligence tests have been proposed. These include:
- Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – a person is given a word and asked to select a picture, from a group of four, which best defines the word.
- Raven’ Progressive Matrices – the person is shown a matrix of patterns, with one pattern missing, and he/she must work out the rules governing the patterns and consequently, the item which best fills the missing pattern.
- Visual Illusions (Psychophysics) – this measures a person’s ability to perform a visual task by seeing how well the brain react to that task. This test is particularly good for seeing how illusions question our perception.
- Elementary Cognitive Tasks – these tests try to aim the psychological and physiological aspects of intelligence and therefore determine how fast the brain works. They do this by assessing a person’s response to stimuli and tasks which become progressively more complicated.
- Psychometric Tests (Aptitude Tests) – commonly used during recruitment and even academic selection, in test centres, these tests focus on specific abilities required for a certain job or role and thus try to predict a candidate’s future performance in a particular field, rather than measure their overall general intelligence.