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Intelligence testing & individual differences An origins story … but not solely in academic departments biology, education, war, and social demands The.

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Presentation on theme: "Intelligence testing & individual differences An origins story … but not solely in academic departments biology, education, war, and social demands The."— Presentation transcript:

1 Intelligence testing & individual differences An origins story … but not solely in academic departments biology, education, war, and social demands The importance of a concept and measurement …. practical device and procedures Intimacy of psychology and society: the promise of better management of problems Alan Collins, Lancaster University

2 Structure Usual story of Psychology’s origins A science of individual differences? Phrenology Intelligence becomes a biological concept Early attempts to measure intelligence Education and the promise of measurement World War I and the promise of testing Post-war enthusiasm Alan Collins, Lancaster University

3 Usual story of Psychology’s origin Histories to do with how we see ourselves…. Grew out of philosophy of mind e.g. Wundt Used experimental methods of physiology to study mind Was first an academic discipline: concerned with truth explaining normality a lab-based, experimental science practical value & explaining abnormality spin-offs Alan Collins, Lancaster University

4 An alternative: importance of psychology of individual differences Science and measuring of individual differences Early C19: Phrenology size of bumps on head development of ‘faculties’ Gall (1825) Spurzheim (1832) Popular e.g. Edinburgh lectures Alan Collins, Lancaster University

5 Phrenology diagram Alan Collins, Lancaster University

6 Why was phrenology popular? Why is it important to this history? Identification of human potential and of human weaknesses using science & measurement Popular, accessible Mid- to late- C19 fell into disrepute But what remained: possibility/attraction of measuring & explaining individual differences in psychological qualities using science Alan Collins, Lancaster University

7 Individual differences and intelligence 1. The rise of the concept of intelligence 2. Intelligence becomes a psychological category 3. Measuring mental ability Alan Collins, Lancaster University

8 The rise of the concept of intelligence Rise of evolutionary thought in mind-19 century Darwin 1859 Origin of Species accounting for diversity and change variation by chance: between and within species natural selection (high mortality rates, individual variation, adaptation) VARIATION is necessary part of nature Therefore individual differences as part of biological science.. As part of the natural order of things Alan Collins, Lancaster University

9 Evolutionary theorists e.g. Spencer ( ) Spencer: 1855 Principles of Psychology Intelligence as adaptive action & ‘survival of the fittest’ argued that biological, psychic and social evolution subject to same laws: ‘social Darwinism’ For Spencer, the social order and biological order either were or should be very similar (in popular form: the ‘it’s natural’ argument) Alan Collins, Lancaster University

10 From biology to psychology: Francis Galton ( ) measurement and statistics Hereditary Genius (1869) inheritance includes ‘abilities’ “life as a continuous examination” therefore, genius ‘measured’ by achievement inherited abilities included mental improvement of ‘man’ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

11 Galton & anthropometrics Attempts to measure mental ability Physical measures because… knowledge from external world perceptual abilities more acute in more able should be shown by tests of physical/perceptual ability Anthropometric lab at the International Exhibition, 1884 Alan Collins, Lancaster University

12 Some key Galtonian claims Object of study: population (contrast with Wundt) Method of investigation: scientific test Data: aggregates from large numbers of people Co-relation of abilities … Pearson’s Product moment Centre of distribution became a norm …. ‘normal distribution’ What was this all about? Science as elucidating social problems … later Eugenics Alan Collins, Lancaster University

13 Consequences of evolutionary thought for intelligence A biological category blurring human - animal social - natural political - biological intelligence is now a material entity it is graded & variable because it is adaptive … it is selected for it contrasts with other psychological qualities e.g. instinct … intelligence is flexible Alan Collins, Lancaster University

14 So far…. Idea implanted of measuring psychological qualities and individual differences in them (phrenology) Intelligence becoming embedded in biology (see Danziger, 1997) evolutionary thought applies to mind & society (Spencer) animal intelligence (Romanes (1880s) variation can be both good and bad but is necessary preferred to ‘intellect’ and ‘reason’ Idea of it as a measurable thing or capacity e.g. Galton “normally distributed” ability Promise of usefulness of knowledge for improving population natural selection …. Artificial selection Alan Collins, Lancaster University

15 How did psychology become a psychological category? Credibility in biology … credible for psychology Statistics of distributions e.g. normal curve … Galton Education War Alan Collins, Lancaster University

16 Education (see Sutherland, 1977, Rose, 1985) Industrialization … educated work force growing professional classes Compulsory & universal education: UK 1870s Standardization of lessons, syllabus, exams etc Teachers and schools as accountable to tax payers progress of pupils Alan Collins, Lancaster University

17 A problem is made visible children not making progress …slowing others an abnormality: ‘feebleminded’ not ‘idiocy’ but an invisible deficiency how to detect it? not medical doctors, not teachers so… space for a new expertise to discover it Alan Collins, Lancaster University

18 Previously: medicine, idiocy & ‘asylum’ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

19 Feeblemindedness deemed important because: a burden: unemployment, delinquency, immorality a threat: degeneracy of national stock, faster breeding Yet not visible … subtle, insidious & so MORE dangerous Alan Collins, Lancaster University


21 1922 Iowa Alan Collins, Lancaster University

22 Needed … a means of detection DETECTION allows separation/segregation special education control … care UK 1903: special schools for “feebleminded” 1908 a Royal Commission on feeble-minded 1913 Mental deficiency act France 1904: Ministry of Public Education inquiry Alan Collins, Lancaster University

23 Measuring intelligence Early attempts at physical measures 1884 Galton 3d for sensory-physiological tests 1891 Cattell: grip strength, RT etc 1901 Wissler: found correlations were near zero … not effective Alan Collins, Lancaster University

24 Alfred Binet ( ) Task: identify ‘feebleminded’ measuring things that require intelligence 1905 Binet & Simon’s Scale of Intelligence 30 tests Recognising food Follow simple orders Name pictures of objects Order 5 weights 1908 version: assign age levels to tasks 1911 Stern: mental age/chronological age * 100 = IQ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

25 Binet’s cautions refrained from giving meaning to the score: a practical device measuring does not guarantee independent existence of an entity to identify so as to help and improve.... ‘a theory of limits’ (Gould, 1982) (And a caution on Binet … much else in psychology besides this) Alan Collins, Lancaster University

26 Binet’s importance Method of examining child that is not: medical or pedagogical but PSYCHOLOGICAL … new domain of expertise, new experts Separate ‘ability’ from instruction Alan Collins, Lancaster University

27 Exporting testing In the USA “Psychology’s social circumstances and the ideologies of pragmatism and functionalism required [a professional applied psychology]” Leahey, Alan Collins, Lancaster University

28 Goddard 1908 discovers Binet’s tests 1910 reports tests of 400 US children classification system e.g. moron 20,000 tests distributed between genetic notion of intelligence (after Galton etc) fear of ‘inferior’ immigrants … not ‘mentally defective’ Ellis Island substantially revised views in 1928 Alan Collins, Lancaster University

29 Lewis Terman Interest in intelligence early 1900s 1916 version of Binet test for US schools … standardization … Stanford-Binet … “IQ” Sorting of people ….. social control welfare of nation Hereditarian meritocracy … identifying ‘gifted’ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

30 In UK Charles Spearman ( ) 1st Galton Professor of Eugenics at UCL in 1911 (succeeded by Karl Pearson) Worked on tests of general intelligence Postulated idea of ‘g’ in 1923 Factor analysis and tests: ‘g’ and special abilities two factor account of human performance Alan Collins, Lancaster University

31 Cyril Burt ( ) Lecturer at Liverpool 1913: ‘first official psychologist in the world’... London County Council … idea of expertise Took over Spearman’s chair in 1932 a ‘differential psychology’ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

32 Education & its legacy Intelligence as … variable & measurable Schooling: identifying and regulating threat of feebleminded …. requires detection: psychologists Tests then reified their object … intelligence measurable using psychological expertise... Psychology creates new ways of thinking and new categories for thinking Alan Collins, Lancaster University

33 2. War US pre-1918: testing of immigrants testing in education But in 1917 came ‘army tests’ Alan Collins, Lancaster University

34 Army testing (see e.g. Kevles, 1986, Carson, 1993) Robert Yerkes ( Harvard Prof & President of APA) Idea that psychology might contribute to war effort: testing of recruits US: especial concern over utility of knowledge e.g. Thorndike: importance of science in producing a modern, progressive society (Smith, p597) Alan Collins, Lancaster University

35 Conscription in 1917 … a unique opportunity eliminate incompetent assist selection of competent for officer training produce balance across units 1.75 million tested changed testing procedure profoundly Alan Collins, Lancaster University

36 Committee on psychological examination of recruits Alan Collins, Lancaster University

37 Tests: short, group administered Alan Collins, Lancaster University

38 Findings Army alpha and beta Graded A-E... C- indicated an ‘ordinary private’ Psychology (apparently?) contributing to war Boring’s analysis of 160,000 tests mental age of average American c.13 years differences between immigrant groups e.g. Poles under 11 years ‘Negro’ at Alan Collins, Lancaster University


40 Tests: A failure for military but … fuelled concerns about national stock … eugenics rears its head “… the effort to create an ideally suitable laboratory chimpanzee may prove useful to those who are seeking an ideal for mankind. One is led to think at once of generally recognized human shortcomings, such as extreme selfishness, dishonesty, slothfulness, cruelty, and to wonder whether by developing an ape notable for its dependability, trustworthiness, consideration of others, measure of self-control, and cooperativeness, and by exhibiting it extensively and impressively, attention might not be focused on the problem of improving human nature and the possibilities of its solution. Possibly such an exhibit, carried to mankind pictorially and verbally, might shame a portion of our kind into resolving to do something about it instead of continuing to be carelessly fatalistic. …The really important things for us at present are recognition and active acceptance of the principles of modifiability, controllability, and consequent improvability, of human nature” (Yerkes, 1943, p. 9-11). Alan Collins, Lancaster University

41 After war: Yerkes reports receiving requests from all sorts of quarters for the tests Prompted extension of test idea to areas such as personality Cattell (1922): put Psychology on the map … because the tests established idea of: ‘psychology as the expertise of efficient human management’ (Smith, 1997, p. 599) Alan Collins, Lancaster University

42 So… measurement by these tests was not: within laboratory concerned with universal mind divorced from social norms Instead: external to lab made intelligence a measurable entity individual differences were a central concern concerned with behaviours and social norms concerned with differences, distributions & popn intimately linked to areas of politics & governance Alan Collins, Lancaster University

43 So where are we? Usual story? Psychology: philosophy of mind + physiological methods An academic discipline concerned with truth explaining normality characteristics of a lab-based, experimental science practical value a spin-off explaining abnormality also a spin-off Alan Collins, Lancaster University

44 But history of psychology of individual differences suggests… Importance of method, category, social conditions Not isolated search for truth but a search for practical expertise - tho’ claim to scientific credibility is important Created new ways of identifying & regulating people & thinking about intelligence Psychology was enmeshed in issues of governance: how to identify ineducable, how to get best from population Alan Collins, Lancaster University

45 And so ….? To the extent we view psychology as being defined by its history… gives a different view of what psychology was … and IS … in what ways? Alan Collins, Lancaster University

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