PSYC 3140 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Andrew Wakefield, Intelligence Quotient, The Lancet
Course CodePSYC 3140
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Andrew Wakefield- published a study about a link between autism and vaccinations. This study caused a
big stir; people found a reason why their child was so distant, so uncommunicative. The study had a
HUGE impact but the problem was that it was based on faulty experimentation. If you don’t give a child
a vaccine, the child gets the disease and then spread it to other kids and you have outbreaks. In 2009, it
was discovered that the information was faulty. The sample size was 12, and 5 of the children were
autistic before the vaccinations. There was a major decreased in vaccinations, especially in Britain.
However, there is NO connection between vaccination and autism.
The Lancet- is a well known medical journal that is agreed as irrefutable. The study was published in that
journal which is a little weird for the sample was really small.
Problems with Wakefield’s study
Studies about aspirin had 10,000 participants in their studies while this study by Wakefield only
had 12 participants! How was it published in the Lancet in the first place?
Study was based on parent recollections, which is bad too. Memory is not accurate; parents
recollect information inaccurately and unreliably.
His conclusions went way beyond the data.
Early history of testing and assessment
Craniometry- the measurement of brain weights to measure intelligence.
o Broca- was a surgeon who looked at cranium capacities who studied men and women
and concluded that men were more intelligent than women due to their bigger brains.
Cranial capacities of prehistoric people- prehistoric people’s skulls were smaller
therefore believed his theory was correct. However, correlation doesn’t prove
causation; he didn’t even establish that correlation, all he found was that men’s size of
the brain was bigger and their capacities are greater. He failed to account for body
mass. There’s a clear and logical flaw (alternate explanation); men are just plain bigger
than women and brain is proportional. It turns out that when you factor in statistically
body size, there is no difference between men and women. Men the same size as
women have the same size of brain.
What does this mean? Could anybody publish a study like this today? Are we
way smarter than they were in the 18th century? Probably not. Broca was not
dumb, so how could such an obvious error (to us) could go past him?
He was looking for an answer WHY men were smarter than women so
looked for something to justify what he supposedly already knew.
People follow the trends of the era; the zeitgeist. Broca was a product of
the dominant thinking of the time (zeitgeist).
o Steven J. Gull is the one of figured out that Broca failed to factor out the whole body
Intelligence and IQ
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o Alfred Binet- was a self taught psychologist and studies his own children and looked at
their cognitive functioning (an inspiration to Piaget who also studied his own children).
His joined a society that wanted to get rid of the old pedagogy and the way people
taught child rearing. People relied on the bible and other religious texts as methods to
rear children. Traditional thinking about child rearing tends to be fairly conservative and
repressive. That’s what the old pedagogy based on and Binet wanted to get away from
that. He was asked to come up a measurement to diagnose children who needed help
He developed a test in order to be able to deal with those children and this was
the first intelligence test. When it was brought to the US it was then called the
Stanford- Binet test. He actually didn’t like the idea of IQ (intelligence quotient);
he talked about mental levels and felt that it was important to look at whether
the child functions in a level that could be expected from his age group. If you
had a child who was 8 years old and was behaving in the level of a 4 year old,
you could quantify it and compare it to the expected level. It is easier to
communicate “your child who is in grade 4 functions in math in the level of a
grade 2 child” than saying “your kid has an IQ of 63”. When you say it the first
way, it means there’s something to do about it. It speaks to all the questions
about the remediation and change. Labelling can be disempowering; the idea of
diagnosis is limited and problematic. Parents may not understand what you tell
them in terms of numbers or scientific terminology.
Binet was actually really concerned about using a certain kind of language in
order for intelligence tests be used productively in the service of the individual.
He always thought that the child should be compared to children in their age
group and also thought that mental levels (not mental quotients) can be
improved with proper instruction (big on remediation).
When you give a number (whenever you measure something and quantify it), it
gives an allusion of scientific validity; the finding seems a lot more real. That’s
what happened with IQ tests, it made it seem much more reliable and scientific.
“Scientism”- when things look and sound scientific because they got numbers
and fancy machines attached to them. That’s a huge problem in terms of public
perception of validity. A lot of what happens in terms of scientific knowledge is
in terms of perceptions.
Mental levels not mental quotient
Mental levels can change; remediation
Children need to be compared to children in their age group
Stern changed Binet’s idea; felt that mental age was too fixed, carved in stone.
Came up with the following formula for IQ=MA/CA*100 (nowadays this kind of
formula is no longer used for IQ). Average for that was a 100. If you give people
a number it’s demoralizing. Binet had wanted the scales to be used to improve
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