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Developing an IQ Test

Concept and Goal


This activity encourages you to think about how intelligence tests reflect cultural themes
and biases. It also encourages you to analyze how intelligence might be defined, how it is likely
to operate, and for what purpose it might be measured, while divorcing you from the particular
your group you are to develop an IQ test and justify it. Each small group will present the test
developed, the justification for the test, and prepare the discussion questions for class
interaction.

Instructions
Please get into groups of 3-5 students and choose one of the three cultures below. This is
a group activity that will be completed outside of class. Devise an intelligence test for
people in that culture; make sure that your test includes nonverbal items. Assume that only
people who will use the test results are those in the culture described. Be as specific and detailed
as you can. Be ready to discuss the reasons for your choices and state how you think the test
should be used within that culture. How would you present your proposed test to people in this
culture, and how would they be likely to respond? If you have to convince them to adopt your
test, what would you say? Why?
You will present your test and justification to the class in a 10-20 minute presentation.
You will pretend that members of the class are people from your chosen culture. How will you
present your test? How will you get them to participate? Please give a typed copy of your test or
a description of the items to the instructor. Visual aids are encouraged.
Your report should include:
 Your group’s definition of intelligence (which may be copied from the textbook)
 A copy of your I.Q. Test
 Answers to the I.Q. Test
 An explanation of how your I.Q. Test is scored or a scale. (If I answer 10 questions
correctly am I a genius, above average, average, below average, a complete dolt. . . ?)
Explain how to score your test
 Answers to the discussion questions

Hints
1. Do not simply copy questions directly from an internet I.Q. Test. I will know! Not only
have I taken most of these I.Q. tests, if I suspect that you have plagiarized I will use
“Turn it In” software to confirm your cheating. If you cheat on this project every group
member will FAIL this assignment and potentially the course! You may use other IQ tests
to get ideas for questions to ask, but you must cite them using APA format.
2. Intelligence is not the same thing as survival! Be certain that the questions on your IQ
Test truly test the hypothetical construct of intelligence and not some other construct like
survival.
3. While the cultures are fake, you can do research that will help you to make a better test.
For example, if you choose Culture 1 you can do research on cultures in the South Pacific
before their colonization by non-indigenous persons. If you choose Culture 2, you could
look for information regarding intelligence testing for individuals who are deaf, blind, or
use English as a second language. If you choose culture 3 you will need to conduct
research on cultures that were prevalent approximately 4000 years ago (approximately
2000 B.C.). You will not be able to create a test which will be valid in every culture 4000
years ago, so you should pick one or two to focus on.
Culture 1
Antarea is a sun-drenched, tropical island nation in the South Pacific, consisting of a
series of tiny, closely packed islands. Each island is separated from its neighbors by a
thin strip of navigable water, with rivers and streams criss-crossing each island as well.
Thus, the primary mode of daily Antarean transportation is swimming. In fact, people
commonly spend many hours each day in the water, either going from one place to
another or even standing in shallow water to socialize or conduct business transactions.
Antareans are completely insulated, never having made contact with any cultures from
the rest of the world. Indeed, they are apparently unaware that there even is a “rest” of
the world, since no Antarean has ever left the island chain or seen evidence of humans
living outside their culture.

Culture 2
Zostereans are people born with a specific brain defect whose only consequence is to
prevent the capacity to use speech. They cannot produce speech or understand the speech
of others; these characteristics apply to vocal speech, written language, and sign
language. Other than this one feature, Zostereans are completely normal. But, because
Western cultures emphasize language so heavily, Zostereans find it difficult, confusing,
and embarrassing to operate in most Western cultures. Thus, they generally live in their
homeland, Zosteria, which is entirely populated by Zostereans, and rarely venture outside
its borders.

Culture 3
A magical genie grants Hilda, the historian, one wish. Hilda says, “Well, I’ve always
wanted to know more about the people who lived on earth 4000 years ago, so bring me
some people from that time so I can talk to them.” Unfortunately, the genie
misunderstood and brought every single human who was alive on earth exactly 4000
years ago to the present. Suddenly, millions of people appeared on the earth mainly in
and around the Portland, Oregon area, where Hilda had met the genie. These
“Transplantons,” as they came to be called by the news media covering the phenomenon,
are people who suddenly appeared in the American Pacific Northwest around the turn of
the 21st century; from the Transplantons’ point of view, however, moments ago they were
in the time period of 4000 years ago.

Discussion Questions
1. What factors did you consider important in developing an IQ test for the culture you
chose? Why were these factors important?

2. Do you have confidence that the final IQ test you developed will be a reliable and valid
measure of intelligence for the group you chose for the purposes you will be
administering it? Why or why not?

3. Is it possible to develop a culturally unbiased IQ test? Why or why not?

References
Cole, M., Gay, J., & Sharp, D. (1971). The cultural context of learning and thinking: An exploration in experimental
anthropology. New York: Basic Books.
Shenker, J., Goss, S., & Bernstein, D. (1997). Instructor’s Manual to accompany Bernstein Psychology, 4th ed. Boston,
MA: Houghton Mifflin
Sternberg, R. (1995). Testing common sense. American Psychologist, 50. 912-927.
Sternberg, R. (1998). In search of the human mind, 2nd ed. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.