The measurement of intelligence is psychology’s most telling accomplishment to date. Nowhere else has there arisen so potent an instrument as the objective measure of intelligence. According to Gall, Borg, and Borg (1996), “intelligence tests provide an estimate of an individual’s general intellectual level by sampling performance on a variety of intellectual tasks. These tests often include items on such tasks as vocabulary choice, mathematical problem solving, reading comprehension, and short-term memory of digits. ”
The concept of intelligence testing and its intended use has remained steadfast since its roots in the early post-Darwinian era. Surprisingly, so has the question of genetics Vs environment. What is not surprising is that the question has not been answered definitively, and the furor and controversy its implications continue to provoke. Rather than trying to answer the concept of intelligence testing as mentioned above, the focus of this essay is directed at whether could cultural bias in intelligence testing affect any form of prejudice development.
This essay will first give an understanding of the need to have intelligence testing and the possible cultural bias in intelligence testing. After which in conclusion, we will discuss if cultural bias in intelligence testing affect development of prejudice. Why is there a Need for Intelligence Testing? Although, as we have seen, theorists and researchers are still working on a definition of intelligence, psychologists, educators, and others who face a very real need to measure intelligence in some way continue to study existing tests and to explore ways to improve their ability to provide us with useful information.
Why do we need to measure intelligence? There are three primary purposes in intelligence testing : predicting academic performance, predicting performance on the job, and assessing general adjustment and health The earliest intelligence tests were designed to meet the first of these goals, and most existing intelligence tests, such as the Binet and Wechsler scales, predict performance in school better than they predict anything else. Predicting how well a person will succeed at a job is the second goal of intelligence testing, and according to Gottfredson (1997), such measures are the most powerful predictors of over all work performance.
A third use of intelligence testing is in assessing people’s general adjustment and health. Unfortunately, traditional tests do not make predictions as accurately for some groups in our society as for others. Many critics, for example, have pointed out that these tests often require knowledge that children with fewer advantages are unlikely to have and that thus, traditional tests may unfairly classify some people as less intelligent than they actually are.
For some years researchers have been attempting to develop what are known as culture-fair tests, that is, tests that attempt to exclude or minimize the presence of culturally biased content that could prejudice test takers’ responses. The raven progressive matrices test which requires people to identify , distinguish, and match patterns of varying complexity, and the Kaufman test are such tests which will be discussed later. Cultural Bias Prior to understanding how cultural bias affect any form of development of predjudice.
Cultural bias is when someone is biased due to their culture. The alleged problem of cultural bias is sometimes said to be central to social and human sciences, such as economics, psychology, anthropology and sociology. To counter perceived cultural bias, some practitioners of the fields have attempted to develop methods and theories to compensate for cultural bias. Some people claim cultural bias is a significant force in the natural sciences. It is believed that physics has been shaped by patriarchal culture.
Numerous such biases are alleged to exist, concerning cultural norms for color, location of body parts, mate selection, concepts of justice, linguistic and logical validity, acceptability of evidence, and taboos. Most people who believe in the existence of cultural bias accept some but not necessarily all of these claims. Cultural bias can also relate to a bias that a culture possesses. For instance, a bias against women could be held by a culture who degrades women. It is extremely difficult to develop a test that measures innate intelligence without introducing cultural bias.
This has been virtually impossible to achieve. One attempt was to eliminate language and design tests with demonstrations and pictures. Another approach is to realize that culture-free tests are not possible and to design culture-fair tests instead. These tests draw on experiences found in many cultures. Many college students have a middle-class background and may have difficulty appreciating the biases that are part of standardized intelligence tests, because their own background does not disadvantage them for these tests.
By doing some intelligence tests which make non-mainstream cultural assumptions, students can come to experience some of the difficulties and issues involved with culturally biased methods of testing intelligence. Are Intelligence Tests Biased? Criticism of intelligence tests began as early as 1920. Some opponents accuse the tests of being culturally biased. This may have been true for early versions of intelligence tests but is not as much of a problem today.
Test developers have become very sensitive to this issue and employ elaborate review processes to ensure that test is free from cultural bias. Interestingly, studies that have attempted to examine the effect of cultural bias tend to show that eliminating items that a group of reviewers deem as being culturally biased has little effect on the overall scores. Furthermore, it is very difficult to get individuals to agree ahead of time on what constitutes a culturally biased item
A test could be biased when “the criterion score predicted from the common regression line is consistently too high or too low for members of the subgroup. ” Thus, bias is a difference in accuracy of predictions about performance based on scores. Studies of the SAT in predicting the first year college grades showed that it over predicted success for African American Students, and so while it was biased it was not harmful, as it did not lead to screening out African Americans as potential students. Of course, this is not the only definition of bias.
Many argue that simple differences in the scores obtained themselves mark some bias when the differences are reliably produced between one group of people and another, even if there is evidence that the differences are “real. ” Thorndike and others in this camp argue for using “biased” tests, but with different cutoff scores for different groups. Some skip all this, claiming that to assess test bias is pointless, as the tests measure what they do, and reliably so. Thus, the issue is user bias. Throwing out tests is like saying, “Sometimes bad drivers cause car accidents. We should get rid of all cars. “