Human Abilities: Their Nature and Measurement

Human Abilities: Their Nature and Measurement

Human Abilities: Their Nature and Measurement

Human Abilities: Their Nature and Measurement


This volume brings together many of the leading researchers on human intelligence and cognition to address issues including definition, measurement, and instructional design. Its publication is a result of the Inaugural Spearman Seminar recently held at the University of Plymouth -- a seminar that is slated to become a regularly scheduled event providing a major international forum for the presentation of work on human abilities. To properly inaugurate this series, scientific experts in this field were asked to reflect on various issues raised but not resolved in Charles Spearman's classic work, The Abilities of Man: Their Nature and Measurement, published in 1927.

As a result of this approach, the book offers a unique overview of the way in which the study of human abilities has developed since 1927, and of current positions in the field. It offers exhaustive discussions on:

• the nature of cognitive abilities and intelligence -- a review of how the factor analytic approach to abilities which grew out of Spearman's work has developed, thoughts regarding the contribution of a cross-cultural perspective, and an elucidation of some of the conceptual issues which often cloud discussions of ability;

• different aspects of the contribution of cognitive psychology to our understanding of abilities -- the relationship between Spearman's g and working memory, links between attention and cognitive style, and the area of spatial abilities;

• recent developments in latent variable and item response modeling; and

• applied issues -- the argument that little predictive value can be gained in occupational selection from measuring abilities other than Spearman's g, and the question of aptitude treatment interactions in education.


Ian Dennis Patrick Tapsfield University of Plymouth

Many readers of this book will recognize an allusion in its title to that of Spearman (1927) classic work, The Abilities of Man: Their Nature and Measurement. This volume arises out of a seminar held at the University of Plymouth in the summer of 1993. It is hoped that this will become the first in a regular series of symposia in the area of human abilities. The proposed series was named in honor of the founding father of the study of abilities--Charles Spearman. The inaugural seminar--and in consequence this book--was organized around the theme of revisiting issues raised in Spearman's seminal work and considering the progress that has been made on them since 1927.

Much of the early part of The Abilities of Man is taken up with a consideration of the nature of intelligence and the structure of human abilities. This is echoed in this volume. The two-factor theory, the articulation and advocacy of which form the core of Spearman's book, can be seen as the first product of the effort to gain a better understanding of the structure of human abilities from considering the patterns of correlations that arise amongst collections of ability tests. In Spearman's own words, two-factor theory holds that:

Every individual measurement of ability can be divided into two parts which possess the following momentous properties. The one part has been called the "general factor" and denoted by the letter g; it is so named because, although varying freely from . . .

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