Why Do We Want To Measure Human Intelligence Psychology Essay

The study of human intelligence is one of the controversial areas in psychology. Individuals differ from one another in their ability to understand complex ideas, to adapt effectively to the environment, to learn from experience, to engage in various forms of reasoning, to overcome obstacles by taking thought. [11]. It is the ‘intelligence’ that clarifies and organizes the se set of abilities.

One of the aims of science is to find ways to measure attributes of the entity which are of interest .According to Fenton and Pfleeger, “measurement is the process by which numbers and sy mbols are assigned to the attribute of the entity” [1]. Entit y is defined as an object or an event in the real world and attribute is the property or the feature of an entity [1].While measuring human intelligence the entity is human being and the attribute to be measured is human intelligence. Measuring the attributes such as intelligence helps us to understand the world better, interact with the surrounding and improve life.

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“Intelligence,” according to psychometricians, is i ndividual’s characteristic. No subject in psychology has provoked such public controversy as the study of human intelligence. Research on how and why people differ in overall mental ability has been a topic of interest. Unlike in the past where people lived a simple life style where ideas or concepts beyond their daily survival was uncommon and not demanded. It is the intelligence that enables people to get the best jobs or reach the highest levels of academic success. These claims create an anxiety to measure intelligence of individuals.

Good colleges admit intelligent students who are likely to succeed, business manager employee staff who are intelligent etc. Even when it is not clear how to measure intelligence the act of proposing such measures will open a debate that leads to greater understanding.


We can determine if a person is intelligent or not by interacting with them, but it is hard for us to define intelligence in precise words. Although there is no single standard definition, if one surveys the many definitions that have been proposed, strong similarities between many of the definitions quickly become obvious [8]. There are number of definition for intelligence that we found during our literature survey .We have discussed some of them below[8].

· “It seems to us that in intelligence there is a fundamental faculty, the alteration or the lack of which, is of the utmost importance for practical life. This faculty is judgment, otherwise called good sense, practical sense, initiative, the faculty of adapting one’s self to circumstances.” A. Binet

“An Intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings.” H. Gardner

“Intelligence is assimilation to the extent that it incorporates all the given data of experience within its framework . . . There can be no doubt either, that mental life is also accommodation to the environment. Assimilation can never be pure because by incorporating new elements into its earlier schemata the intelligence constantly modifies the latter in order to adjust them to new elements.” J. Piaget

· “A global concept that involves an individual’s abi lity

to act purposefully, think rationally, and deal effectively

with the environment.” D. Wechsler

“The capacity to inhibit an instinctive adjustment, the capacity to redefine the inhibited instinctive adjustment in the light of imaginally experienced trial and error, and the capacity to realize the modified instinctive adjustment in overt behavior to the advantage of the individual as a social animal.” L. L. Thurstone

“. . . a quality that is intellectual and not emoti onal or moral: in measuring it we try to rule out the effects of the child’s zeal, interest, industry, and the like. Secondly, it denotes a general capacity, a capacity that enters into everything the child says or does or thinks; any want of ‘intelligence’ will therefore be reveal ed to some degree in almost all that he attempts;” C. L. Burt [8].

From the above definitions we can say that one can never agree on one universal definition of intelligence as it is an open-ended word.


“An attribute is a property or feature of an entity ” [1]. Different authors specify different factors affecting intelligence according to their perceptive as there is no concrete definition for intelligence. According to George D.Stoddard, the principal attributes of a functional concept of intelligence are, “Intelligence is the ability to undertake activities that are characterized by (1) difficulty, (2) complexity, (3) abstractness, (4) economy, (5) adaptiveness to a goal, (6) social value, and (7) the emergence of originals, and to maintain such activities under conditions that demand a concentration of energy and a resistance to emotional forces” [9].

According to Howard Gardner intelligence is influence by eight factors. They are namely:

Linguistic: It involves sensitivity to spoken & written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish goals [6]. It involves the ability to express rhetorically or poetically, and uses language as a means to remember information. Writers, poets, lawyers, and speakers have this ability.

Logical-mathematics: It involves the ability to analyze problems logically, perform mathematical operations, and investigate things scientifically. According to Howard Gardner’s, it includes the ability of detecting problem, reasoning and thinking logically. This intelligence is associated with scientific and mathematical thinking.

Music: The ability of performing, composing, and appreciating music. It consists of recognizing and composing musical pitches, tones, and rhythms. This ability is often seen in singers, musical composers.

Spatial: Involves the ability to recognize and use the space and more confined areas.

Bodily-kinesthetic: The ability of using one’s body to solve problems. According to Howard Gardner mental and physical ability as related to each other.

Interpersonal: The capacity to understand the intentions, motivations and desires of others. This ability allows people to work effectively in a team. This ability is crucial for educators, salespeople, religious leaders, political leaders and counselor.

Intrapersonal: The capacity to understand one’s own feelings, fears and motivations. According to Howard Gardner it involves having an effective working model and which helps regulating once life.


The quantification of human intelligence has been a challenging and controversial topic as intelligence is interpreted differently by different people. It is generally felt that it is possible to recognize intelligence but not define it precisely or measure it exactly [4]. Intelligence is measured by non physical metric which is indirect measurement where attributes such as height of a person are measured by physical metric which give accurate and exact measures. Tests of intelligence come in various forms. Some of them measure only a single attribute example the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (measures children’s verbal intelligence), Raven’s Progressive Matrices (a nonverbal intelligence measure test).Although these instruments are useful for specific purposes, the more familiar measures of general intelligence are the Wechsler tests and the Stanford-Binet-scale as they measure both verbal and non-verbal intelligence. All these different scales for measuring intelligence come under IQ tests. IQ tests have been traditionally used to quantify human intelligence based on results of test designed by psychologists [10].

Measurement scale is defined as mapping together with the empirical and numerical relation system [1]. According to Fenton and Pfleeger there are 5 different measurement scales. They are: Nominal scale is used for classification of objects. This classification does not associate with any ordering or ranking. In Ordinal scale classification of objects is associated with ranking according to particular ordering criteria. An Interval scale measure is such that differences between values are meaningful [1] where as in a Ratio scale, measure is such that the ratio of measures is meaningful and finally in Absolute scale, measures are obtained by counting the objects.

Binet and Simon Test is mostly used measurement technique for intelligence.This Binet and Simon test has been revised, which is named as Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale. The IQ test consists of different categories of questions like quantitative test, verbal ability and analytical tests. . In this test intelligence of a person is measured by comparing the person’s intelligence with respect to the other person. The average IQ score of a person is taken as 100. Higher than the score 100 indicates that a person is more intelligent than the average person and less than the score 100 indicates that a person is less intelligent than an average intelligent person .The scale type of measurement used here is the interval scale.

The strength of this IQ test is that it does not take much time and a tests without any bias . Intelligence as measured by IQ tests is the single most effective predictor known of individual performance at school and on the job. It also predicts many other aspects of wellbeing, including a person’s chances of divorcing, dropping out of high school, being unemployed or having illegitimate children [12]. Many, universally apply this strategy for the selection of students into graduation and post graduation courses by conducting examinations like SAT or GRE. Most of the countries use similar tests for selecting students into college , university and candidates for jobs.

Limitation of this test is that it does not test all the sub-attributes of intelligence take for example if a preschooler obtains a score of zero does not imply that the preschooler is mentally retardate this might be due to the preschooler’s lack of cooperation and concentration during the test or due to the test’s difficulty. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale is insensitive to age. These IQ test scores depend only on whether the answer is correct or incorrect. No attempt is made to find out how the subject arrived at that particular answer [4]. The mental process used to reason is as important as the final answer [4].

The question is, what is the nature of mental ability, of intelligence, as revealed by measurement? Unfortunately no answer can be given that will satisfy persons interested in child and adult development, for the subtests are not revealing. On the other hand, if you want to measure memory, reading comprehension, reasoning ability, vocabulary and general information, good procedures are available. Almost any combination of reliable measurements of these functions, accompanied by clinical observations, will give fair predictions of

academic success, and of general ability to solve problems [9].

For pages other than the first page, start at the top of the page, and continue in double-column format. The two columns on the last page should be as close to equal length as possible.


In this paper we have discussed about the importance of human intelligence, need to measure intelligence and also the possible measures for intelligence. We conclude by saying that “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; but when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of meager and unsatisfactory kind” by Lord Kelvin [1].


Our thanks to Cigdem Gencel for this assignment, because this assignment made us to understand the practical way of applying software metics. We have realized the essential purpose of the metrics, and came to know that metrics could be applied to any field and also have an in depth idea about how to measure various entities in the real world.

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