Social Science - Other

Dealing with the Cultural Bias in Intelligence Testing Culture Free and Culture Fair IQ Tests



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It is apparently not possible to test intelligence in ways that truly identify innate abilities. There is no way for an individual who has not taken many math courses to test well in mathematics reasoning, indicating that it is not innate mathematical abilities that are being tested, but those skills that are acquired when an individual is immersed in math studies.

It makes no sense to use a picture of an Eames chair in identifying chairs when an individual has never seen such a chair. In some tests, something as simple as putting together a puzzle can be jeopardized by over stylization of the artwork or the image that was rendered by the artist.

Would Americans do well in taking a test that is developed and administered to test the intelligence of residents of Japan? One would think that inability to read the Japanese text , instructions or even artistic renderings would net a person an evaluation that they have no intelligence at all! Does language affect the testing of innate ability? Yes it does.

It might be possible that intelligence tests need to stop having an intent of measuring innate ability at all. Testing should identify areas of weakness and assign studies that develop the parts of the brain that are not exercised. In spatial recognition, for example, there is no proof or evidence that an individual has absolutely no or weak innate ability and would not improve if certain studies or activities were assigned, meaning that there might not be an innate ability for spatial recognition that can be generalized to the entire human population. Some individuals simply are more exposed to using maps, working with floor plans, or sewing a garment, and are more developed in those mental areas.

When cultural bias exists in intelligence testing, innate ability is not being tested at all. Cultural bias can stem from complete ignorance as to the daily and necessary functions that an individual must carry out.  A poor person, for example, will regularly exercise different intellectual functions than a middle class person. A middle class person will regularly exercise different intellectual functions than a wealthy person. As a result, an intellectual test that tests the parts of the intellect that involve informal but amazing similar urban social trade and bartering systems will differ from one that tests reading and writing ability that is based on Eurocentric writings that target the intellecltual and social elites.

In memory retention, for example, a bit of text that requires learning and translation of the content in addition to simple rote memorization is culturally biased and is useless in determining if an individual has innate memory issues. Even unfamiliar images can involve other processes than the singular and innate mental process that the test claims to measure. This would not only be cultural bias, but would be a logical flaw in the testing: other things than one singular innate ability are being tested!

Some intelligence "tests" are actually puzzles, where an individual must figure out how another person constructed a riddle, series of numbers where the next number must be figured out, or what is the logical solution to a riddle. Many individuals do not do puzzles and are not able to compete with others who have been taught the forms for solution, who have practiced, or who have figured out the principles of various puzzles and riddles.

As a result, testing the results of education, practice or training in playing games or solving puzzles, rather than innate intellectual ability might be the real intent of that type of intelligence test question. A simple test of cultural bias in such testing would be to give an indivual training in solving these types of problems, then re-testing.

In another example, say a test designer used a principle from playing Chess in a question. Who plays chess? How would the question not have a bias toward people who play chess regularly, who recognize the logic and who can answer the question "correctly"?

By now, higher intelligence ratings for those who have a broader or upper class knowledge of types of classic chairs, the reasoning behind a classical thesis, and other biases should have been eliminated from intelligence testing. Such tests are testing education, not innate intellectual ability.

When brains are challenged, brains develop. When cognitive abilities are used, they develop.

It might never be possible to test overall human intelligence with standardized tests that are supposed to apply to a general population, without also testing education and learned processes in addition to, or even instead of testing innate cognitive ability. At any rate, so called intelligence testing that does not identify clear physiological problems should never be allowed to determine an individual's opportunities in life, to force individuals into certain class structures, or to determine true intellectual superiority.

Instead, weak areas should be followed by a period of education and training, which would be followed by re-testing to determine if improvement would show that the test component was actually evaluating an educational intellectual component and not an innate cognitive ability.









More about this author: Elizabeth M Young

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