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American Beliefs About Intelligence

American Beliefs About Intelligence

with the assistance of SALLY C. LERNER
Copyright Date: 1969
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 300
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    American Beliefs About Intelligence
    Book Description:

    Based on two national surveys--one of adults and one of secondary school students, this volume reports on their experiences with and their attitudes toward standardized tests of intelligence. The authors analyze the relations between a person's beliefs about the nature of intelligence, his estimate of his own intelligence, his attitudes concerning tests, and other personal characteristics.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-081-3
    Subjects: Psychology, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    THE NUMBER of standardized tests of ability given each year in the United States continues to rise. Almost all children have taken such standardized tests; probably 250 million standardized ability tests are administered in the American school system each year. A growing number of adults in American society have taken intelligence, aptitude, or achievement tests during their lifetimes, and those adults who have not taken tests themselves have frequently come in contact with tests through their children. At the adult level tests are used in educational systems, business firms, industrial concerns, in the armed services and civil service and government,...

  5. 2 The Origins and Stability of Intelligence
    (pp. 18-54)

    QUESTIONS about the origins of intelligence and the nature of intellectual development have long been a subject of considerable controversy among psychologists and educators. A variety of positions have been taken on these issues.¹ Intelligence has been viewed both as an inherited trait, an inborn capacity that individuals possess to varying degrees, and as a characteristic of behavior that primarily reflects the quality of individuals’ learning experiences. Similar divergent positions have been taken on the question of intellectual development. It has been described as an essentially biological maturational process—intellectual growth proceeding, much in the manner of neural development, toward...

  6. 3 The Importance of Tested Intelligence
    (pp. 55-66)

    WE ASKED our student respondents, “How important do you feel the kind of intelligence measured by intelligence tests is for success in school?” Five alternative evaluations and an additional “no opinion” category were provided as answers for this question, as follows: “It is not important at all,” “It is not so important as some other qualities,” “It is no more important than other qualities,” “It is more important than some other qualities but by itself it is not enough,” and “It is the most important factor for success in school or college.” Another item, identical to the one just described,...

  7. 4 Experiences with Tests
    (pp. 67-76)

    EXPERIENCES in the young person’s life with tests of intelligence are of two main kinds; namely, with standardized intelligence tests in secondary school and with tests taken in connection with entrance to college. As we report the distribution of experiences, we wish to stress again that the referent of the word “tests” is broad and varied among this population of students, and what is reported here involves the student’s subjective definition of what a test is; it is not a reflection of fact necessarily, for if one had the omniscience to count all instances of secondary school experiences with intelligence...

  8. 5 The Accuracy of Intelligence Tests
    (pp. 77-90)

    BELIEFS about the accuracy of intelligence tests, in general, and of one’s own test results, in particular, are the topics treated in this chapter. We treat these two beliefs separately in this chapter, because although students who view intelligence tests, in general, as inaccurate also are more likely to state that their own test scores either overestimate or underestimate their own intelligence. However, a substantial percentage of students who view their own test scores as inaccurate still say that intelligence tests, in general, are accurate (see Table 5.1). Continuing with the pattern established in the previous chapters, we begin our...

  9. 6 Attitudes Toward Taking Tests
    (pp. 91-106)

    IN THIS CHAPTER we are primarily concerned with students’ liking or disliking of tests, their feelings of confidence about taking tests, and their degree of nervousness or discomfort when they take tests. Positive and negative test-taking attitudes may stem from a variety of sources, including motivations for success, fear of failure, and various test anxieties. Prior research (for example, Sarasonet al., 1960) has shown that test anxiety may influence a person’s performance by increasing his interest and motivation to do well on tests. However, the same research indicated that excessive amounts of anxiety may have just the opposite effect...

  10. 7 High and Low Self-Estimates of Intelligence
    (pp. 107-124)

    WHETHER A person feels he is high or average or low in intelligence compared to others is the result of many varied experiences of his lifetime, which provide information he views as relevant to judging his own abilities. His self-estimate of intelligence will be derived from information he has received in the form of school grades, or his success on a job, or what people tell him, or his observation of others, or as we have seen, in an increasing number of instances, standardized intelligence test scores. Beliefs and attitudes about one's own intelligence are important elements in the more...

  11. 8 Educational Aspirations and Self-Estimates of Intelligence
    (pp. 125-134)

    FOR APPROXIMATELY three decades the aspirations of American secondary school students for higher education have been the focus of many studies, and such aspirations continue to be an important subject of social science research. The data from our national survey of students permit us to make an important and original contribution to understanding educational aspirations; namely, we demonstrate for our national sample of secondary school students that the higher their self-estimates of intelligence, the more frequently they aspire to complete college, and that this relationship still remains even when students are matched on characteristics of religion, sex, father’s educational background,...

  12. 9 Reporting of Test Results
    (pp. 135-163)

    PROFESSIONAL persons associated with the production, administration, and use of standardized tests and their results share several beliefs about why intelligence test scores should not be routinely reported to students taking the test. Concern has been expressed about the potentially disturbing effects of giving information to students who do not perform well on tests. Concern also has been visible about the likelihood of misunderstanding of the meaning of the test results and also about the possible too rigid use of test information, whether by the child in forming his self-image or by the parents or inexperienced teachers in setting their...

  13. 10 Ability Grouping in Schools
    (pp. 164-183)

    IT HAS TAKEN three decades for “homogeneous ability groupin” of students to become a common educational practice within our schools. Today in most public schools we find some form of classroom grouping, based either on the student's intelligence scores or on his estimated skills and abilities (Goslin, Epstein, and Hallock, 1965). In those schools where grouping is not found, the reasons lie in obstacles of a practical nature rather than in an educational philosophy opposed to the practice. Grouping is a goal widely accepted by educators, and the public also seems convinced of its value. Goslin (1963) reports that a...

  14. 11 Perceived Consequences of Intelligence Testing
    (pp. 184-190)

    THE THEME for analysis in this short chapter is the consequences the students see of their experiences with standardized ability tests. How do respondents think test scores have been used in the process of making decisions affecting their futures?

    We understand that their reports are probably not factual descriptions, for this is an area of opinion in which there is much room for the expression of individual feelings of various kinds. Indeed, some research (Hastingset al., 1960) shows that even those persons who make decisions about children—guidance counselors, teachers, and others are frequently unable to evaluate the amount...

  15. 12 Attitudes Toward the Fairness of Using Test Results
    (pp. 191-206)

    WE ASKED our student respondents for their attitudes toward using tests as the basis for decisions made about their education and their careers. The question: “Given tests as they are now, do you think it is fair (just) to use intelligence tests to help make the following decisions?” was followed by nine situations referring to education and occupations, and also referring to the selection of leaders in government and in large corporations.

    We find that on the average students have unfavorable attitudes toward the use of tests. Some 53 per cent of the public school students are against using tests...

  16. APPENDIX A. Sampling and Data Collection
    (pp. 209-216)
  17. APPENDIX B. Characteristics of the Respondents
    (pp. 217-248)
  18. APPENDIX C. Comparison of American Adults with Secondary School Students
    (pp. 249-270)
  19. References
    (pp. 271-278)
  20. Index
    (pp. 279-291)