Posted: March 16th, 2022

Perception of Giftedness and the Referral of African

Intelligence Testing


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The author of this report is asked to answer three general questions about intelligence. The first question asks for the general underpinnings and genesis of the discussions about intelligence including what was suggested by Binet as well as the general definition and formulations of the intelligence quotient, or IQ. The second question and discussion is about the challenges to the definition of intelligence as offered and suggested by Gardner, Spearman and others. Finally, there is to be an evaluation of which definitions could or should be use as the basis for intelligence testing.


Binet was indeed one of the pioneers of the intelligence and intelligence-measuring field. His contributions to the early discussions of intelligence are mentioned in the work of Cicciola et al. (2014). Cicciola talks about the genesis of the intelligence quotient instrument and the general concept of intelligence. He notes that the names involved in that genesis were Alfred Binet, Francis Galton and James McKeen. There was also a person by the name of Cattel that was involved and still remains in the minds of psychologists who pine for and study the field. It is also noted how Binet’s tests and concept of intelligence developed and changed over the years. The study notes that there was a recent demonstration of this in the form of so many realms of psychology being used in ways that relate to intelligence. These fields include psychiatry, pedagogy, new technologies in general, new theoretical/methodological points-of-view and so on. Cicciola notes that prior to World War I, general and applied psychology were principally rooted in those countries that were touched by modern industrialization as was started by the United States in the mid-1800’s by way of the Industrial revolution. The Binet framework was meant to address certain problems and challenges. Indeed, Italy had a set of issues including the need to create a public education system that stimulated both scientific and psychological studies. Much the same thing happened in France in the 19th century as new social needs emerged (Cicciola, Foschi & Lombardo, 2014; Dale, Finch, McIntosh, Rothlisberg & Finch, 2014).


The test that Binet created, as discussed by the source, was the result of a program of craniological and anthropometric approaches that had led French psychology pioneers to exclude the methodologies that would normally be involved in measuring intelligence. Things came to a head in the decade that ran from 1895 to 1905 where Binet and his cohorts came up with a test that was reliable and structured but would still measure individual differences in intelligence and mind-based capability. The version that Binet submitted was based on the context in which he apparently worked. This context was an Italian society in search of a scientific technique that was useful in improving the education and training of primary school teachers (Cicciola, Foschi & Lombardo, 2014; Dale, Finch, McIntosh, Rothlisberg & Finch, 2014).


Concurrent to the work of Binet was the work of Simon and De Sanctis. Simon was quite similar to Binet but De Sanctis forged his own path. His ways were similar in that he would present tasks that would increase in terms of difficulty from one question to the next. However, while Binet and others would compare actual age to psychological age, De Sanctis was not interested in that dimension. Rather, De Sanctis was interested in measuring the intellectual deficit capable of “sic et simplicitir” photographing a difference in the overall level of mental capacity as a means to verify the presence of learning difficultiesl that called for a specific psycho-pedagogic training. In other words, De Sanctis and Binet were really looking for entirely different things (Cicciola, Foschi & Lombardo, 2014; Dale, Finch, McIntosh, Rothlisberg & Finch, 2014).


When it came to critics of the Binet and other methods, a lot of criticism came out of Italy. First, the use of psychological tests was restricted to attempts to standardize or modify the scales created by Binet and Simon. In particular, there were scholars such as Ferrari who considered intelligence testing to be akin to psychological experiments. Ferrari considered intelligence testing to be a scientific tool to specify certain psyiatric diagnoses. Two other scholars, those being Umberto Saffiotti and Zaccaria Treves were interested in the pedagogical use of these testing methods in the schools and were particularly focused on classification of strong and weak pupils among the larger classrooms full of children. Another challenger to the methods described above was a woman by the name of Maria Montessori. She was actually a student of De Sanctis. She had prior worked with De Sanctis but later distanced herself from the work of De Sanctis and suggested that the testing methods and usages were not useful or helpful for educational and measurement purposes (Cicciola, Foschi & Lombardo, 2014; Dale, Finch, McIntosh, Rothlisberg & Finch, 2014).


As for the alternative theories about intelligence and the people behind them, the first person to be mentioned would be Gardner, as authored in 1983, 2006 and 2011 and mentioned by Fisher in 2013. Szpringer also makes strong mention of the subject. The latter starts off by mentioning what a vast and important role that intelligence plays in everyday human life. He notes that it helps a person to adapt to the environment and it facilitates the taking of opportunities offered by this environment. Since this definition is so broad, this has always tended to create various conceptions and formulations of intelligence. It has gotten to the point that intelligence has even become a buzzword of sorts. Even if everyone attaches a modicum of importance to intelligence, there are many different definitions and iterations of what the word means, why it means a certain thing to some people and so forth. A common iteration of this debate and dynamic would be “street smarts” versus “book smarts.” Szpringer then gets into the person that is the focus of this particular paragraph and that would be Howard Gardner. Gardner coined the theory and the term known as multiple intelligences. Gardner was a psychologist and neurologist who perceived human capabilities and abilities in a very specific way. Gardner went on record of saying that intelligence is an ability to solve problems or create products which are specifically important for a particular situation or cultural context. Further, he said that the capability of problem solving allows an individual to approach the situation which needs to be addressed by reaching a certain goal and in a certain way. Beyond that, this whole idea challenges the presumption and assumption of classical theories on intelligence that often assert that intelligence is monolithic and only takes on one form (Szpringer, Kopik & Formella, 2014; Fisher, 2013).


As explained by Szpringer, the original theory of multiple intelligences was actually based on seven intelligences in total. Those seven were musical, kinesthetic, logical/mathematical, linguistics, visual/spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal. Later on, an eight intelligence was added to that list and it came to be known as naturalistic intelligence. Gardner then upped the ante even more by suggesting that there were “eight and a half” intelligences by adding existential intelligence to the top of the list. It is noted by Szpringer that there are probably a lot of other intelligences that have not be quantified or identified but those eight or nine just mentioned are a good start, of course. Gardner did not actually expect his work to be widely received and applauded but the opposite ended up being true. It went so far that teachers created curricula and other forms of learning that were based in whole or in part on the ideas that Gardner was suggesting. The entire concept of “multi-intelligent education” came about from that point of analysis (Szpringer, Kopik & Formella, 2014).


Like the other skeptics mentioned before, many of the people that questioned Binet seemed to come out of the woodwork either before or during the World Wars of the world. Spearman was one of those skeptics and he came to be known for what was known as the Law of Diminishing Returns. Spearman stated in 1927 that mental ability test scores correlate positive. He further stated that these positive correlations, are known as a positive manifold. This manifold is a general factor of intelligence that is referred to as psychometric. Spearman observed the overall magnitude of these correlations and scores in children. He observed that the correlations in children who were supposedly “normal” were weaker than those that were obtained from children who had lower general ability. He then theorized that the effects of psychometric measures decrease as the “g” score increases. He said that this makes it very much like the law of diminishing returns that is commonly held to and believe in economics. The law is so well-known nowadays that it is called the Spearman Law of Diminishing Returns, or SLODR for short. Reynolds (2013) notes that some of the current theories of intelligence that are used to explain positive manifold also account for SLORD in their description and analysis. As an example, in Anderson’s theory of minimal cognitive architecture, one path for knowledge acquisition is through a specific set of processors. Two such processors are verbalization and visualization. A central processor, however, can actually act as a restraint to the overall process. Further, the central processor acts as an inhibitor and limiter of other processors. This system of constrained is often referred to as the basic speed of mental processing and it explains why all mental ability test scores correlate positively in the basis for “g.” Individuals with a faster processor, or a higher “g,” have fewer such constraints and therefore their processors (or abilities) are expressed more effectively and consistently in their test score results (Reynolds, 2013). As for which methods should or should not be used when it comes to intelligence testing, it is clear that a single uniform scale is not going to work across the board. The prior variations with the Law of Diminishing Returns is but one example as there are people skewed differently based on their overall intelligence. Much tehs ame thing would seem to be necessary for other situations such as when children are born pre-term (Roberts et al., 2013).




It is clear from the research that intelligence takes on many forms and functions. It is also clear that measuring and assessing intelligence in different types of people is necessarily going to be different and unique. This has been proven throughout the years as people of seemingly the same intelligence level do so differently on tests that are meant to measure intelligence the same way and in all people. Even so, the paradigm and overall methods of measuring intelligence should be kept as simple and monolithic as possible unless a distinction truly can and should be made. Those aberrations will be rare but they can and will continue to exist.




Cicciola, E., Foschi, R., & Lombardo, G.P. (2014). Making up intelligence scales: De


Sanctis’s and Binet’s tests, 1905 and after. History Of Psychology, 17(3), 223-


236. doi:10.1037/a0033740


Dale, B.A., Finch, M.H., Mcintosh, D.E., Rothlisberg, B.A., & Finch, W.H. (2014).


Utility of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition, with Ethnically


Diverse Preschoolers. Psychology In The Schools, 51(6), 581-590.


Fisher, T.A. (2013, January 1). The Impact of Multiple Intelligence Theory on Teacher


Perception of Giftedness and the Referral of African-American Students to Gifted


and Talented Education Programs. ProQuest LLC.


Reynolds, M.R. (2013). Interpreting the “g” Loadings of Intelligence Test Composite


Scores in Light of Spearman’s Law of Diminishing Returns. School Psychology


Quarterly, 28(1), 63-76.


Roberts, R.M., George, W.M., Cole, C., Marshall, P., Ellison, V., & Fabel, H. (2013).


The Effect of Age-Correction on IQ Scores among School-Aged Children Born


Preterm. Australian Journal Of Educational & Developmental Psychology, 131-




Szpringer, M., Kopik, A. & Formella, Z. (2014). “MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES” AND




Education / Educatia Plus, 10(2), 350-359.

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