Measuring intelligence – IQ testing

Standardised IQ tests are our most accurate current method of measuring intelligence.

IQ tests are not tests designed to measure particular aptitudes, personality inclinations, or educational levels.

IQ tests aim to measure the most innate component of intelligence. This innate component of intelligence is known as the general intelligence factor, or g factor.

An IQ test is not designed to measure education, but rather, the potential to be educated. The objective of accurately measuring pure IQ/g factor without any inclusion of education or acquired knowledge cannot be said to have been achieved yet, but current IQ testing is proving to indicate potential, and correlates consistently with other individual and social variables (measurements) so standardised IQ tests are measuring the g factor reasonably accurately. Naturally there is much more yet to be generally known and understood about intelligence.

IQ tests consist of a set of problems, usually presented through verbal, numerical, and visual/spatial formats.

Within their verbal, numerical or visual mediums, the problems in IQ tests come in many different formats and designs, but they all test the ability to recognise differences and similarities, in other words, they test the ability to discriminate and generalise.

Test problems often consist of four similarities, with three units being most similar and one unit being least similar to the other three. The task is to recognise which unit is the odd one out, or which is most dissimilar to the other three. Some tests require the subject to select from a variety of different options to continue a supplied pattern, which is testing the same ability. Other test questions may be analogies, which test the ability to associate, which again, is the same ability.

The problems to be solved in an IQ test gradually increase in their difficulty, so that the differences to be detected between the units in each question become gradually finer, until the person being tested reaches their limit of ability to distinguish differences and recognise generalities. This limit is considered to mark the boundary of the person’s intelligence.

Intelligence is measured by the fineness or subtlety of the distinctions and similarities that one is able to make.

So the next time you correctly and proportionally observe some patterns and differences, and reasonably comment on them, and someone reprimands you and accuses you of discriminating or generalising, as if that is a bad thing to do, remember that you are merely exercising your intelligence, and continue to do so.

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