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Intelligence Testing

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There are two problems with the intelligence quotient approach:

  1. The score necessary to be in the top range of a particular age group varies, depending on age.
  2. The scoring system had no meaning for adults. For example, a fifty-year-old man who scores like a thirty-year-old can’t accurately be said to have low intelligence.

The Stanford-Binet was revised in 1937, 1960, 1973, and 1986.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

David Wechsler published the first test for assessing intelligence in adults in 1939. The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale contains many items that assess nonverbal reasoning ability and therefore depends less on verbal ability that does the Stanford-Binet. It also provides separate scores of verbal intelligence and nonverbal or performance intelligence, as well as a score that indicates overall intelligence.

The term intelligence quotient, or IQ, is also used to describe the score on the Wechsler test. However, the Wechsler test presented scores based on a normal distribution of data rather than the intelligence quotient. The normal distribution is a symmetrical bell-shaped curve that represents how characteristics like IQ are distributed in a large population. In this scoring system, the mean IQ score is set at 100, and the standard deviation is set at 15. The test is constructed so that about two-thirds of people tested (68 percent) will score within one standard deviation of the mean, or between 85 and 115.

On the Wechsler test, the IQ score reflects where a person falls in the normal distribution of IQ scores. Therefore, this score, like the original Stanford-Binet IQ score, is a relative score, indicating how the test taker’s score compares to the scores of other people. Most current intelligence tests, including the revised versions of the Stanford-Binet, now have scoring systems based on the normal distribution. About 95 percent of the population will score between 70 and 130 (within two standard deviations from the mean), and about 99.7 percent of the population will score between 55 and 145 (within three standard deviations from the mean).