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Chapter 9

PSY100Y5 Chapter 9: Chapter #9 (Intelligence and Psychological Testing)

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Dax Urbszat

Chapter #9 – Intelligence and Psychological Testing Key Concepts in Psychological Testing • A psychological test is a standardized measure of a sample of a person’s behaviour o Used to measure the individual differences that exist among people in abilities, aptitudes, interests, and aspects of personalities • Principal Types of Tests o Mental Ability Tests ▪ Intelligence tests measure general mental ability ▪ Aptitude tests assess specific types of mental abilities ▪ Achievement tests gauge a person’s mastery and knowledge of various subjects o Personality Tests ▪ Personality tests measure various aspects of personality, including motives, interests, values, and attitudes • Standardization and Norms o Standardization refers to the uniform procedures used in the administration and scoring of a test o Test norms provide information about where a score on a psychological test ranks in relation to other scores on that test ▪ In psychological testing, everything is relative o A percentile score indicates the percentage of people who score at or below the score one has obtained • Reliability o Reliability refers to the measurement consistency of a test (or of other kinds of measurement techniques) ▪ A test’s reliability can be estimated in several ways; one widely used approach is to check test-retest reliability, which is estimated by comparing subjects’ scores on two administrations of a test o A correlation coefficient is a numerical index of the degree of relationship between two variables ▪ The closer the correlation comes to +1.00, the more reliable the test is ▪ The higher the reliability coefficient, the more consistent the test is. As reliability goes down, concern about measurement error increases • Validity o Validity refers to the ability of a test to measure what it was designed to measure o Content Validity ▪ Content Validity refers to the degree to which the content of a test is representative of the domain it’s supposed to cover ▪ Evaluated with logic more than with statistics o Criterion-Related Validity ▪ Criterion-related validity is estimated by correlating subjects’ scores on a test with their scores on an independent criterion (another measure) of the trait assessed by the test o Construct Validity ▪ Some psychological tests attempt to measure abstract personal qualities, such as creativity, intelligence, extraversion, or independence ▪ Construct validity is the extent to which there is evidence that a test measures a particular hypothetical construct The Evolution of Intelligence Testing • Galton’s Studies of Hereditary Genius o Sir Francis Galton concluded tht success runs in families because great intelligence is passed from generation to generation through genetic inheritance o To better demonstrate this, Galton needed an objective measure of intelligence ▪ He assumed that the mind is made out of elementary sensations and that exceptionally bright people should exhibit exceptional sensory activity ▪ Working from this premise, he tried to assess innate mental ability by measuring simple sensory processes o Research eventually showed that the sensory processes that he measured were largely unrelated to other criteria of mental ability that he was trying to predict, such as success in school or in professional life o Coined the phrase nature versus nurture • Binet’s Breakthrough o In 1904, Alfred Binet was asked to devise a test to identify mentally subnormal children (they wanted to single out children in need of special training) o In response, Binet and Theodore Simon published the first useful test of general mental ability in 1905 ▪ Loaded it with abstract reasoning skills, rather than sensory skills like Galton did ▪ The scale was a success because it was inexpensive, easy to administer, objective, and capable of predicting children’s performance in school fairly well o The Binet-Simon scale expressed a child’s score in terms of “mental level” or “mental age” ▪ A child’s mental age indicated that he or she displayed the mental ability typical of a child of that chronological (actual) age • Terman and the Stanford-Binet o The Stanford-Binet test incorporated a new scoring scheme based on the “intelligence quotient” ▪ Is a child’s mental age divided by chronological age, multiplied by 100 o This made it possible to compare children of different ages • Wechsler’s Innovations o David Wechsler set out to improve on the measurement of intelligence in adults o In 1939, he published the first high-quality IQ test designed specifically for adults, which came to be known as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) o Characterized by two major innovations: ▪ Wechsler made his scales less dependent on subjects’ verbal ability than the Stanford-Binet; he included many items that required nonverbal reasoning ▪ Discarded the intelligence quotient in favour of a new scoring scheme based on the normal distribution The Debate about the Structure of Intelligence • Charles Spearman sparked the debate on the structure of intelligence • In factor analysis, correlations among many variables are analyzed to identify closely related clusters of variables o If a number of variables correlate highly with one another, the assumption is that a single factor is influencing all of them • Spearman concluded that all cognitive abilities share an important core factor o He labelled this factor g for general mental ability o Spearman recognized that people also have “special” abilities (numerical reasoning or spatial ability for instance), but thought that these abilities were largely determined by their general mental ability • L. L. Thurstone concluded that intelligence involves multiple abilities, and that Spearman and his followers placed far to much emphasis on g o He carved intelligence into seven independent factors called primary mental abilities: ▪ Word fluency ▪ Verbal comprehension ▪ Spatial ability ▪ Perceptual speed ▪ Numerical ability ▪ Inductive reasoning ▪ Memory • Both L.L Thurstone’s method and Spearman’s remain influential today • Developers of IQ tests began moving in an opposite direction in the 1980s o They turned to a model of intelligence that proposed that g should be divided into fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence ▪ Involves reasoning ability, memory capacity, and speed of information processing ▪ Involves ability to apply acquired knowledge and skills in problem solving o Recent studies show that the prefrontal cortex is more involved in problem solving accessing fluid intelligence but less involved in tasks implicating crystallized intelligence • Researchers and theorists tend to be obsessed with Spearman’s g, but clinicians and educators facing difficult diagnostic decisions are more interested in the measurement of specific abilities in the tradition of Thurstone Basic Questions about Intelligence Testing • What Do Modern IQ Scores Mean? o The normal distribution is a symmetric, bell-shaped curve that represents the pattern in which many characteristics are dispersed in the population ▪ When a trait is normally distributed, most cases fall near the centre of the distribution and the number of cases gradually declines as one moves away from the centre in either direction o Wechsler devised a more sophisticated scoring system for his tests, where raw scores are translated into deviation IQ scores ▪ Locate subjects precisely within the normal distribution, using the standard deviation as the unit of measurement o For most IQ tests, the mean of the distribution is set at 100 and the standard deviation (SD) is set at 15, to provide continuity with the original IQ ratio (mental age to chronological age) o Modern IQ tests scores indicate exactly where you fall in the normal distribution of intelligence • Do Intelligence Tests Have Adequate Reliability? o IQ tests produce consistent results when people are rested o IQ tests are exceptionally reliable o Unlike other tests, they sample behaviour, and a specific testing may yield an unrepresentative score o Anxiety or motivation towards a test can sometimes produce misleading scores • Do Intelligence Tests Have Adequate Validity? o IQ tests are valid measures of the kind of intelligence that’s necessary to do well in academic work, but if the purpose is to assess intelligence in a broader sense, the validity of IQ tests is questionable o There are many factors that can affect grades and school progress such as motivation, personality, teachers’ subjective biases, etc. o Robert Sternberg identified three components of intelligence: ▪ Verbal intelligence ▪ Practical intelligence ▪ Social intelligence o IQ tests do not cover all of these, but rather more cognitive intelligence, and do not predict rational thinking and effective decision making in the real world • Are Individuals’ IQ Scores Stable Over Time? o IQ scores are relatively unstable during the preschool years and are not good predictors of scores in adolescence and adulthood ▪ As children grow, their IQ cores eventually stabilize ▪ As of the ages 7-10, tests become fairly accurate predictors of IQ at age 18 ▪ IQ scores tend to be stable, but they are not set in concrete • Do Intelligence Tests Predict Vocational Success? o People who score high on IQ tests are more likely than those who score low to end up in high-status jobs ▪ IQ tests measure school ability  school performance is important in reaching certain occupations ▪ There are plenty of exceptions (a correlation of 0.37) ▪ The relationship between IQ and income is weaker o There is a correlation of 0.50 between IQ sores and job performance, though several factors have been found to affect the level of correlation • Are IQ Tests Widely Used in Other Cultures? o In other Western cultures with European roots, yes o In most non-Western cultures, very little o The cultural life of two cultures differs only in language, while the cognitive abilities characteristic of the two differs only in level ▪ Using an intelligence test with another culture than the one it was made for can cause problems (the process of test administration, rapid information processing, and decisive responding is foreign to some cultures) Extremes of Intelligence • Intellectual Disability o Intellectual disability refers to subnormal general mental ability accompanied by deficiencies in adaptive skills, originating before age 18 ▪ Adaptive skills consist of everyday living skills in three broad domains, being: ▪ Conceptual skills (managing money, writing a letter, etc.) ▪ Social skills (making friends, coping with others’ demands, etc.) ▪ Practical skills (preparing meals, using transportation, shopping, etc.) o The DSM-5 test uses the term “intellectual disability” to replace the former term, “mental retardation” o Levels of Intellectual Disability ▪ Recent evidence suggests that the prevalence of intellectual disability probably is close to 1% (on a range of 1%-3%) ▪ Traditionally classified into four levels: mild, moderate, severe, or profound ▪ 85% diagnosed with intellectual disabilities are characterized as mild, 10% in the moderate, and 5% in severe, meaning only 15% represent the image that people think of when thinking of the intellectually disabled o Origins ▪ Organic conditions can cause intellectual disability ▪ Down syndrome is a condition marked by distinctive physical characteristics that is associated with mild to severe intellectual disability (carrying an extra chromosome) ▪ In hydrocephaly, an excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull destroys brain tissue and causes intellectual disability ▪ The vast majority of children with mild disability come from the lower socioeconomic classes o Savants ▪ Kim Peek was the inspiration for Dustin Hoffman’s character in the movie Rain man ▪ Kim walks with a “sidelong” fait, and is unable to manage the buttons on his clothes or to brush his teeth, or cope by himself with most of the ordinary demands of daily life ▪ Kim was able to memorize 9,000 books and knows all the area codes and zip codes in the United States • Giftedness o Identifying Gifted Children ▪ Experts consistently assert that giftedness should not be equated with high intelligence, and recommend that schools not too heavily rely on IQ tests to select gifted children ▪ In practice though, gifted children are mostly selected based on IQ tests and rarely consider creativity, leadership, or special talent o Personal Qualities of the Gifted ▪ Gifted children are stereotyped as weak, sickly, socially inept bookworms who are often emotionally troubled ▪ The empirical evidence contradicts this view though, as Lewis Terman’s study found that gifted children were above average in height, weight, strength, physical health, emotional adjustment, mental health, and social maturity ▪ Ellen Winner asserts that moderately gifted children (those with an IQ or
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