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The historical and conceptual development of intelligence tests in psychology during the modern period - Essay Example

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According to David Wechsler, intelligence is defined as “The global capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally and to deal effectively with the environment” (Coon, 2009). However, there are differences in approach and conceptions of intelligence have also been changing. …
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The historical and conceptual development of intelligence tests in psychology during the modern period
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Download file to see previous pages Special psychological tests are devised to measure this quality of intelligence. An intelligence test is essentially an instrument designed to indicate how intelligent a person is. Many such tests have been devised, but their purpose is similar: to measure people’s intelligence. Over time however, the concept of psychological testing has been applied in various areas other than intelligence such as personality assessment. The other uses of intelligence tests have been to detect and analyse mental and personality disorders and illnesses.
The measure is usually in the form of a score or category. A high score indicates a high degree of intelligence and a low score indicates a low degree. However, this is dependent on the quality of the test. It should therefore be interpreted accordingly. The score’s acceptability is dependent on two important criteria: reliability and validity. Reliability can be checked, for example, by retesting, and validity can be checked, for example, using factor analysis. Anne Anastasi also described an intelligence test as being ‘objective’ and as providing a ‘standardised’ procedure for measuring behaviour (Banerjee, 1994). Thus, many people besides psychologists and psychiatrists, such as teachers and health professionals, also use them.
Intelligence is usually measured either for classification, evaluating educational programs, or undertaking scientific investigations. In a classification, the person is indicated as belonging to a certain category. In evaluating programs, the objective is to evaluate its effectiveness. In the case of research or investigations, greater precision is usually required, so the test must be carefully constructed. People also use intelligence tests for self-assessment purposes to gain a better understanding of their intelligence or to compare with others. Most tests nowadays are based on comparing the scores of groups of people. Sir Francis Galton first developed this type of test, known as a norm-based test, in the 1800s. The data is usually interpreted according to a normal frequency distribution (a bell curve). Galton was most likely influenced by physiognomy, as he was interested in other individual differences too, such as head sizes. He focused on reaction times and made various sensori-motor measurements (Wilderdom, 2005). His useful contribution was in demonstrating how measures of central tendency and variability could be used in intelligence testing for describing the data and the concept of correlation. Despite Galton’s specialisation in the psychology of individual differences, importantly, he seems to have overlooked nature factors, such as inherited traits, and nurturing factors, such as education and environmental influences. He was also influenced by Darwin’s theory of evolution and tried to examine it in terms of intelligence (Brysbaert & Rastle, 2009). This early effort was nonetheless a useful start. There are even renewed ‘Galton-like’ approaches being pursued today by the likes of Arthur Jensen and Mike Andersen, so the basic principles continue to be applied. An important new development was the application of these ideas to the field of education when Alfred Binet devised an intelligence test with the help of his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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