Culture-Fair intelligence tests
In The Types of IQ Tests, we covered the major IQ tests that are most often employed by psychologist and other scientists worldwide. However, we also briefly touched upon the subject of how these tests can, at times, be culturally unfair—and significantly so as well.
The Inherent Culture-Unfairness of Most IQ Tests
One obvious disadvantage that those from minority groups may face is that of the language barrier. There are significant verbal and literary aspects in the components of most IQ tests—and just as one would still be unlikely to do well in a test in one’s field of expertise if it was conducted in a foreign language, the likewise can be said to apply to the testing of intelligence as well.
Also, the testing format may be something that people outside western culture may be all but unfamiliar with. For example, multiple choice questions may not be an orthodox testing method in certain parts of the world, and having their first exposure to it be in an evaluation of their intelligence can then lead one to reasonably form the conjecture that any result of said evaluation would be skewed against their favor.
But with that being said, many test developers have claimed to have made great strides in eliminating such culture bias that were apparent in precedent tests. Some scholars— such as Francher, Jensen, and Rushton—even posits that test bias no longer exists to any degree at all, albeit it’s likely that this is not entirely the case.
Regardless, the amount of scientific effort that have gone into the development of these tests with regards to the removal of cultural bias has resulted in the reduction of said bias, though it is unlikely that tests can ever be wholly free of bias or entirely culturally neutral (seeing that they are, at the end of the day, developed by people; they are thus vulnerable to the cultural perceptions of the test developers, which is only a problem for no other reason than the fact that human error is unavoidable—especially when they stem from internalized systems in our subconsciousness).
Culture-Fair Intelligence Tests
There are multiple IQ tests out there that claim to be culturally fair, of which many have been built upon the Cattel Culture Fair Intelligence Test first developed by Raymond Cattel as an attempt to measure intelligence via a test that was void of socio-cultural and environmental influences.
These tests often consist of three scales of visual, non-verbal puzzles. The first scale is made up of subtests surrounding mazes, symbols, drawings, and other non-verbal tasks. The second and third scales, on the other hand, are frequently made up of classification subtests, where participants are likely tasked to complete a sequence of symbols or something similar.
Besides these explicit differences, Culture Fair Intelligence Tests often take the following considerations into mind as well:
- A specialized examiner is often employed to conduct said tests. These examiners often possess the knowledge, skills, and cultural competence to facilitate a more cohesive and comprehensive assessment of culturally diverse groups.
- Aside from the test tasks (which are considered more as illustrative samples of intelligence rather than an exhaustive reflection of it), Culture Fair Intelligence Tests also collate collateral information such as learning styles, motivation, interests, and health, to develop more reliable profiles of participants
- In a similar regard as the above, professionals are often hired to investigate all information collected on participants in what is described by Kaufman to be a “shrewd and flexible” manner, to move beyond deficit thinking and towards validity and reliability.
In a published research by Sandoval et al., are a list of recommendations that focus primarily on the improvement of not so much the test itself, but the testing process and interpretation of collected scores, with regards to a culturally diverse participant group. They suggest that:
- Professionals should identify any existing preconceptions (both negative and positive) they themselves may have about diverse groups, and acknowledge the ways in which said perceptions may influence their assessments.
- From there, they should examine the complex schemes and conceptions held by the general public or academic body, and ensure that all results are evaluated with sufficient regard for the many factors that may affect the performance of culturally diverse groups.
- Professionals should also be on a constant search for alternative explanations for any disconformity evidenced, and resist the urge to rush with their judgements; instead, they must be reflective and inquisitive in the interpretation of test scores.
- Professionals should also spend significant time interacting in the neighborhoods of which they or their testing administration is servicing, as a firsthand means of understanding and experiencing cultural values, traditions, and customs that may or may not affect test scores.
To further your discovery on the topic of IQ tests and intelligence, you can read up on A History of IQ Testing, or the relationship between High Giftedness and Personality. Alternatively, you can also click here for a full list of related topics.