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Short history of IQ tests


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History of IQ

    The history of IQ began in the ninetheenth century with sir Francis Galton. He was a british scientist known as a dabbler in many different fields, including biology and early forms of psychology. After the shake-up from the 1859 publishing of Charles Darwin's "The Origin of Species", Galton spent the majority of his time trying to discover the relationship between heredity and human ability. He believed that mental traits are based on physical factors.

    Galton's ideas on intelligence were influenced also by the work of a Belgian statistician named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet. Quetelet was the first to apply statistical methods to the study of human characteristics, and actually discovered the concept of normal distribution.

    In the 1890s, James McKeen Cattell, an American student of Galton's, brought the idea of intelligence testing to America.

    Meanwhile in France, Alfred Binet (a psychologist passionate about testing and measuring human capabilities) was busy devising tests to rate child intelligence. In 1904 he was commissioned by the French government to find a method to differentiate between children who were intellectually normal and those who were inferior. Binet gave the test to Paris schoolchildren and created a standard based on his data.

    The idea that a test could determine a child's "mental age" became enormously popular. In 1912 Wilhelm Stern, a German psychologist, noticed that even though the gap between mental age and chronological age widens as a child matures, the ratio of mental age to chronological age remains constant.

    The Binet test was enthusiastically accepted in America. In 1916, a Binet test was administered to a prisoner on trial for murder. Because the prisoner fared so poorly on the test, the Wyoming jury acquitted him by reason of his mental condition.

    In 1917, when America entered World War I. The U.S. Army was faced with the dilemma of sorting huge numbers of draftees into various Army positions. To solve this problem, the Army put together a committee of seven leading psychologists to devise a mass intelligence test. One of the seven selected psychologists was Lewis Terman. He coined the term intelligence quotient. Lewis Terman had a pupil named Arthur Otis who had already begun constructed a group intelligence test when the Army decided it needed one. The committee adopted the Otis's material, and a few weeks after that there was a trial run with four thousand men. By the beginning of 1919, nearly two million American men had taken the Army intelligence tests.

    Many companies began testing programs, but the greatest market for intelligence tests was the schools. In the 1960s and '70s, IQ tests began to fall out of favor, partially because of racially and culturally specific test questions.

    The concept of intelligence has continued to evolve. In 1983, Howard Gardner defined seven distinct intelligences. The concept of multiple intelligences helped broaden the idea of "intelligence" from a mathematical and verbal understanding, which had become cemented into American culture through years of national testing (i.e. the SATs). Gardner's ideas have made their way into education, and are currently being used by many school districts. But traditional intelligence and scholastic aptitude testing has continued to gain acceptance and force in U.S. education. Today, certain colleges refuse to accept students below certain prestigious scores on the SATs and many private and premier public schools accept students almost solely on the basis of test scores.

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