Intelligence test

Since its birth in the late 1890s, IQ as a concept and intelligence testing generally have been subject to a laundry list of criticisms. Here is a sample of what critics have asked:

  • What does IQ really mean and does it have any practical value?
  • How valid are the different tests and what do these tests really measure?
  • Are IQ tests culturally biased, therefore favouring some ethnic groups over others?
  • Are IQ tests gender neutral?
  • Does IQ testing have any validity?

All IQ tests suffer from limitations, although “culture fair” testing addresses several prior concerns for psychological testing:

IQ testing challenges

IQ is a proxy measure of someone’s General Intelligence (G) or cognitive ability. IQ is an imperfect, yet highly valid concept in psychological testing. Although intelligence can be compartmentalised into several aspects,
the Horn & Cattell school of thought is that General Intelligence (G) can be dissected into two principal components: (1) fluid intelligence or “Gf” and (2) crystallised intelligence
or “Gc“.
Image of Cattell-Horn breakdown of General Intelligence
Fluid intelligence is associated with simultaneous or holistic processing and the right hemisphere of the brain. Crystallised
intelligence is related to sequential processing and the learned component of intelligence, acquired largely in formal education

Intelligence testing and test characteristics

Intelligence testing is more akin to an advanced art rather than a hard science. There is no perfect test to measure G, and one type of test will be better at measuring some aspect of general intelligence than another. Culture-fair IQ tests [e.g Cattel Culture-Fair IIIa or
Raven’s Progressive Matrices (RPM)] are particularly good at measuring fluid intelligence or simultaneous processing (as opposed to sequential processing), which is
the aspect of human intelligence that is believed to be innate and which begins to decline by the time we reach our mid-to-late 20s (in the absence of cognitive training).
Fluid intelligence is linked to the ability to solve novel problems as you will encounter on our culture-fair tests.

Biases in IQ testing

Some intelligence tests are culturally biased , particularly if they rely heavily on general knowledge, or fluency of a spoken or written language. Clearly, native speakers or
individuals with higher education in the language of the test will be advantaged when taking such tests. In addition to being biased, these types of tests are
often poor when it comes to measuring fluid intelligence. This is why Culture-Fair tests measuring fluid intelligence (Gf) represent a more valid
concept when it comes to ‘universal’ or ‘global’ IQ test. Matrix-based fluid IQ tests are particularly relevant in the context of a borderless, web-based cohort of test takers. Mensa and other
high IQ societies recognize the importance of testing fluid IQ via the administration of a culture-fair IQ test.

Cultural improvements in psychological testing

Similarly, culture-fair IQ testing addresses any accusations of gender bias in testing

Mensa culture fair tests

IQ tests have been shown to have good validity, with IQ test results being statistically significantly correlated to a number of variables which are associated with intelligence (click here
for further details).

A number of high IQ societies such as Mensa will provide two types of IQ tests to evaluate the IQ and general intelligence of test takers. A culture-fair fluid IQ test is usually administered, in addition to a
verbal IQ test which measures crystallized intelligence. A passing score on either section of the test (IQ of 132 or more, if SD=32) will result in the test taker extended an invitation to join Mensa.

As a final remark, it is quite possible to have low or modest fluid intelligence (” Gf “) and to have average or above average crystallised intelligence “Gc“, or vice versa.
However, higher fluid intelligence makes it easier to ‘invest’ in one’s crystallized intelligence (enhanced through education).