IQ Test As A Way To Measure Intelligence

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As the readings explain, when the first Intelligence test was created, Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon had no idea the everlasting impact it would have on psychology (Psychology). This systematic assessment completely shifted how America evaluates intelligence. The IQ test allegedly was able to separate the intellectually inferior individuals from the rest of society. Bias has and continues to influence intelligence testing in many ways. When IQ tests first got to America it was another way that those in power (typically white males) were able to exclude and control marginalized communities such as immigrants and people of color. Minorities and impoverished individuals were disproportionately over-represented in being classified as intellectually disabled (Psychology). In my opinion, giving people a test on intelligence in a language that they do not understand is not a reflection of their intellect at all, just their lack of understanding of the language. Not only is this an inaccurate representation of their intelligence but it can result in low confidence, unrealistic expectations, and distorted understanding of a person’s potential. According to the Telegraph article about IQ tests not reflecting intelligence, “Different circuits within the brain are used for different thought processes, meaning separate tests of short-term memory, reasoning and verbal skills are needed to measure someone’s overall intelligence (The Telegraph).” Meaning that the human brain is an extremely complex object and there is not just one way of measuring intelligence.

I do believe that race, class, and culture should be accounted for when interpreting scores from intelligence tests. According to the Conversation article, the “cultural specificity” of intelligence makes IQ tests biased towards the environments in which they were developed – namely white, Western society (The Conversation). If this were the case, places with people of culturally diverse settings would not do as well because the concept of intelligence varies among cultures. For example, in most Asian countries it is polite to take your shoes off upon entering the house. If you were an American going to Japan and did not know about this custom, it does not mean you are less intelligent it just means that our cultures are different and have different values. In other words, forcing everyone to take the same test would fail to reflect what each culture considers intelligent. Perhaps originally the IQ test was designed to evaluate people’s intellect when it was developed in France but it ended up just being another way to oppress minorities. What I found particularly disturbing throughout my research was the concept of eugenics. I could not believe that people were trying to improve their genetic stock by breeding with other good genes and sterilizing all of the bad ones. I find it unsettling that people were so easily persuaded to act in this way but I think their opinions derived from racism, not intelligence.

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IQ testing completely changed how America defined intelligence. One assessment was thought to differentiate the intellectually inferior from the superior. When in fact, it is an assessment that is specific to one culture and is intended to only evaluate a certain type of intellectual functioning. The human brain is so complex that there are many different ways to assess intelligence. Furthermore, there is no way to nail intelligence down to one way of thinking because brilliance is found through many different outlets.


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