Recent Experiments in Psychology

By Leland W. Crafts; Theodore C. Schneirla et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIV
A COMPARISON OF THE INTELLIGENCE OF "RACIAL" AND NATIONAL GROUPS IN EUROPE

INTRODUCTION

The development of intelligence tests and their popular acceptance as a means of differentiating individuals of different levels or degrees of intellectual capacity have led to the attempt to employ these instruments for a variety of other specific purposes, among them the discovery of whether or not there are "superior" and "inferior" races of mankind. The hypothesis that some racial groups are inherently (i.e., by heredity) more intelligent than others is commonly held. This hypothesis, however, is one which cannot easily be tested, first, because of the difficulty of securing a test of intelligence which will be equally valid as a measuring rod for individuals of widely different cultural backgrounds, and, second, because of the difficulty of identifying and isolating these so-called "races."

One obstacle in the way of securing a universally applicable measure of intelligence is, obviously, the language in which the test is constructed. For example, if the original Binet test is to be used with children in the public schools of Shanghai, it must first be translated into Chinese. The adequate translation into English of those parts of the test which were originally written in French presented certain difficulties. These difficulties are greatly increased when the translation must be made into a particular dialect of Chinese (or Aleut, or Bushman, or Fiji). But the difficulties of "translation"--if the test is to be equally fair1 to the children of the various groups under comparison--go far beyond those dependent upon language differences alone. For example, in Shanghai the coins used in one part of the test can no longer be American ones. And even when we have selected

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1
A test may be said to be equally fair to the individuals or groups under comparison if performance on it is not significantly affected by differences among them in past experience, i.e., in education, in culture, in socioeconomic status, etc.

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