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:

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:

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.