This is an example dissertation chapter on Intelligence:
Intelligence is a word that describes the ability of an individual to perform desired tasks well. Over the years many people have come up with their own idea of what intelligence is, based on what they feel is important. It has been a trend in the past for people to think that intelligence is correlated to academic achievement. That is, the ability to perform well at linguistics, mathematics, logics and other school-based forms of intelligence as discussed in class.
Recently there has been a switch to try to include a wider range of things in the definition of intelligence, such as problem solving skills, abstract reasoning, adaptability to the environment, mental processing speed, creativity, motivation, goal-directed behavior, sensory acuity, and the ability to acquire knowledge as well as many other things as discussed in class. People have begun to believe that intelligence takes different forms depending on the requirements of the environment and the culture that you live and are raised in as discussed in class. As a result it has been difficult to develop a clear-cut definition of intelligence that will suit everyone’s beliefs.
In 1905 Alfred Binet designed the first IQ test, which was used to predict children’s academic achievement as discussed in class. Even at this point in time, people were beginning to understand the implications that these tests had. Their desired outcome was to get increased assistance for children who needed it in school, but it is easy to see how this wouldn’t always be the result as discussed in class. It is believed that knowing a person’s intelligence can limit their strive to perform better, and inadvertently cause them and others to set a standard for them to meet which may be above or below their actual ability. Nonetheless intelligence testing has become a very common practice. A man by the name of David Wechsler developed the intelligence tests for children and adults that are used today as discussed in class. These tests attempt to assess various aspects of a person’s intelligence, and have been standardized to a great extent.
Aside from the standard tests described above, in today’s age of technology, there are also many intelligence-based tests on the Internet. These test vary in validity, as do all other things on the Internet, yet some of them test quite similar knowledge and ability to the standardized ones. To test the validity of some Internet tests, I took two of them that were listed on the website http://www.wizardrealm.com/tests/. I will compare the test results, and compare the types of questions, or knowledge tested, to that of the Wechsler IQ test.
The first test I too was Rozie’s test, at http://www.rozies.com/Zzzz/Tests/cyiq-test.html. This test had 60 questions, and was self scoring. Upon completing the test I was told my IQ was 124, which it said was higher than 94% of the population. To show that this maybe statistically accurate they stated the number of people who have taken the test, and also had a list of the top 100 people’s names and scores. This is an indication that this site was validly assessing intelligence. I believe that that assessment of my intelligence was probably a bit high, but perhaps that is because it was testing types of knowledge that I am good at.
This test asked questions of many types. There were questions about the meaning of words, and comparison of similar words. These types of questions test language comprehension. There were also questions that compared various objects or animals, which would test someone’s general knowledge, as well as abstract reasoning and their ability to comprehend language, and see similarities. Asking the category that a scrambled word belonged in also tested linguistics. There were many questions on the test, which examined logic by testing people’s ability to draw logical conclusions from a few facts. These were questions that involved comparing pictorial objects and shapes. This would test some of the same things as the questions comparing words, but would not test language comprehension. This is important incase people have the ability to compare and contrast things, but have little knowledge of language. Some questions gave a list of objects, and asked which one was different, or which didn’t belong. This tested the ability of people to pick out subtle differences between objects, showing that they could pay attention to detail and also tested people’s abstract reasoning. Many questions involved picking the number that didn’t belong out of a sequence. This tested the ability of a person to recognize basic and complex patterns. There were also mathematical questions that tested the ability of a person to use mathematics to solve a problem. This tested problem-solving skills and mathematical skills as well as logic. Many questions were analogies, which mostly tested abstract reasoning. I believe that this test gives a relatively accurate because it tests many of the aspects that are believed to comprise intelligence.
The test examined many of the aspects that are believed to be involved in intelligence, however there are some aspects that it did not address. The test was supposed to be preformed within a time limit, which indirectly tests the mental processing speed of an individual, but nothing can be inferred about it from this test. The test made no attempt to assess people’s adaptability to their environment, creativity, goal directedness or motivation. These aspects would be very difficult to assess by simply taking a test on the Internet or on paper, so it isn’t a big surprise that these aspects were not touched upon in the examination.
The second test I took was from http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/1641/iqown2.html. This test also had 60 questions, but it was not self-scoring. Most of the questions were of the same variety as the test above. This test was chosen for the reasons stated above to minimalize the differences between the tests, so they could be compared more accurately. There seemed to be more abstract reasoning involved in this test than in the previous test, however the questions were largely similar. On this test my IQ was said to be 134. This is 10 points higher than the first one, and it works out to be higher than 98% of the population on their scale. I definitely think that this assessment of my intelligence is too high, however I do have a biased opinion because it is I who took the test.
The difference in scores between the two tests maybe be do to the fact that the tests were similar, so the practice effect may have been an issue. The first test however stated that it could be done twice and still be accurate, as long as an hour was left between the two attempts. The fact that I did the other test the next day should have therefore meant that there would be no practice effect. Since both tests were immensely similar in question style, however, it suggests that the practice effect did come into play. To check this out, I did the first test again, and came out with the exact same result as the first time. This indicates that doing that test twice doesn’t have an effect on your score, however it says nothing about whether or not the second test could have been affected by the practice effect. This also indicated that the test was reliable and valid because it gave me the exact same result upon completing it twice. Both of the tests indicated that my intelligence is above that of the average person, but they both showed differences in how much higher. I think that the two tests accurately tested my abstract reasoning, my mathematical and problem solving skills, and my ability to comprehend language. As stated above, there are many aspects that can be considered part of intelligence that the test did not assess.
The tests could have assessed mental processing speed by having timed portions of the test, however on the Internet it is difficult to have portions timed accurately. It is possible that by asking situational questions, the tests could have more accurately assessed my ability to adapt to the environment, and my ability to acquire and apply knowledge. By asking questions that involve categorizing a list of professions or tasks it may have been possible to tap into the goal-directedness of a person, or their motivation. It would however be vary hard to prove whether any of these things were actually being accurately assessed when there is no prior knowledge of the person. These aspects would all be assessed more easily in person because the examiner would be able to observe the person, ask them questions, and time portions of the exam.
As you can see it is very difficult to define and test intelligence. One of the major problems is that intelligence has different focuses for different people depending on their background, environment, and culture. Intelligence tests are designed to assess people’s abilities in areas that a majority of people believe to be correlated with intelligence. These tests show certain aspects of intelligence, but as suggested above, it is impossible to test them all. These tests tell their maker if an individual is intelligent in the areas that the test was designed to test based on the maker’s own beliefs of what comprises intelligence. This means that the test will give an accurate assessment of an individual’s intelligence, as defined by whoever made the tests. An individual’s scores can be compared to the scores of other people, however the meaning is really only relevant to people who define intelligence in a similar way to the maker of the test. For example if you went to the Serengeti of Africa and told a tribe leader that his tribe had a certain IQ, it would be meaningless to him because different cultures and environments value different aspects of human intelligence.
Why does our society put so much focus on trying to categorize people as to whether or not they do well on a certain test? What we should all realize is that each person has their own abilities, and we should not categorize them if their abilities don’t coincide with our view of being intelligent.
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