This test, published initially in 1939 by David Wechsler, a clinical psychologist at Bellevue Hospital in New York. was designed exclusively for adults. As seen in his later definition of intelligence as "the aggregate or global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, think rationally and to deal effectively with his environment" (Wechsler, 1958, p. 7), Wechsler, like Galton, Binet, and Terman, believed in the existence of a general mental ability.
It was Wechsler's hope that his test would prove to be not only a valid measure of adult intellectual functioning but would also contribute to making clinical diagnoses. Unlike the age-scale format of the Stanford-Binet, the Wechsler-Bellevue was a point scale on which points were earned for passing subtests and were then converted to scaled scores and IQs. The test as a whole was divided into two sections, Verbal and Performance, consisting of five to six subtests each. On the verbal subtests, the examinee provided verbal answers to a series of questions; on the performance subtests, the examinee performed a task requiring perceptua/motor responses. Each of the subtests was scored separately, the raw scores being converted to standard scores having a mean of 10 and a standard deviation of 3. Three IQs—Verbal, Performance, and Full Scale—were determined on a standard score (deviation IQ scale having a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15. The difference between the Verbal and Performance IQs, the pattern or scatter of standard scores on the various subtests, and the qualitative nature of the responses made by the examinee were analyzed in arriving at a clinical diagnosis. In addition to being one of the principal psychometric instruments designed for use for clinical and counseling situations, the Wechsler-Bellevue Form I and its successors have been used extensively in research.
My first encounter with intelligence tests was when, as a high school senior, I was required to take the California Test of Mental Maturity. Our English teacher had previously warned us that administration of this group test was imminent and had drilled us on items she recorded from the previous year's test. The drill was apparently beneficial, because the class performed fairly well. Observing, however, that some students did better than others, and being trained in the old school of pedagogy, she posted our IQ scores in rank order by name on the hall bulletin board. The highest score was obtained by a 13-year-old intellectual prodigy who knew four foreign languages, could work a slide rule faster than most of us could think, and was exempt from physical education because he screamed too loudly when injured.
Some years later I took another intelligence test—the Army General ClassificationTest-on a cold gymnasium floor early in the morning at the beginning of my Marine Corps career. The examiner assured us that the less-than-optimal testing conditions would have no effect on the scores of "real marines," so we set to work and did our best. After the tests had been scored, our drill instructor showed even greater creativity than our high school English teacher in reporting the scores. While we were marching in ranks, he rhythmically intoned each recruit's score by name, such as, "Smith's GCT is 123, but he doesn't know his right from his left!" This may have been amusing to him, but it was traumatic to one low-scorer who tried to escape from the shame by swimming across the Savannah River; he was bitten by an alligator but survived. Another recruit with an exceptionally low score was made to march 40 paces behind the platoon for the rest of his boot camp experience.
When I became a graduate student in psychology, I was able to make a few extra dollars by administering the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale in schools, churches, courthouses, or wherever living, breathing human beings could be found. I tested them on dining tables, on lawns, in broom closets, on dirty floors, and even incobweb-covered corners. Despite the informal testing conditions, most examinees were cooperative, and even if they weren't, I doggedly persevered until an IQ estimate was obtained on every single one of them. The test scores were used for grade-placement purposes after consulting with the parents
Following its initial publication in 1939, the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale was revised in 1946, 1955, 1981, and 1997. The 1981 edition, called the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale — Revised (WAIS-R), is appropriate for individuals aged 16 years and over. The WAIS-R consists of the following six Verbal (V) and five Performance (P) subtests administered in alternating order, as follows:
and teachers. Sometimes it was difficult to get parents and teachers to be flexible in interpreting the scores. For example, one parent wanted to know if her boy's score of 72 meant that he was mentally retarded. She was told that a child had to score below 70 before he or she was placed in a special class for retarded children. The obviously relieved mother exclaimed, "I knew he was just lazy, and I'm gonna beat hell out of him until he does better in his school work!"
During several of my testing outings, I discovered numerous mistakes that had been made by other examiners in scoring intelligence tests. In some cases, the scores were based on incorrect or unknown birth dates that resulted in children being placed in the wrong category and hence the wrong grade or section. Such mistakes were not limited to graduate-student examiners, but were made by professional psychologists as well.
One might think that sophisticated college and university professors would be immune to reification of the IQcon-cept, but such has not always been the case. For example, I overheard an argument between two famous psychologists concerning some abstruse matter pertaining to learning theory. One of the gentlemen became so vexed that he blurted out that his IQ was higher than his opponent's and therefore his opinion was more likely to be correct.
Perhaps it was overhearing interchanges like this one that encouraged a group of students to suggest listing professors' IQs by their names in the campus newspaper to help students select courses. In any event, on a bet from a friend of mine that I couldn't pass the intelligence test for Mensa—an organization for superintellects, I signed up and reported at the designated place and time. Imagine my delight when the examination turned out to be my old friend, the California Test of Mental Maturity!
During the heyday of IQ testing, some young men were known to ask their dates' IQs before taking them out a second time, and certainly before becoming engaged. In fact, the provisions in the will of one famous pioneer in the mental testing movement made the amount of money bequeathed to each of his two sons contingent on the tested abilities ofthe women they married. Reportedly, only one of the sons, a eugenics enthusiast, went along with the provision. Even I was swept up in the enthusiasm over the role of intelligence testing in mate selection when I administered the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale to a young woman I was dating some years ago. However, she took it in her stride and agreed to marry me on the condition that she could verify my own IQ first. Fortunately, we settled the matter out of court.
Information (V) Picture Completion Digit Span (V) Picture Arrangement Vocabulary (V) Block Design (P)
Arithmetic (V) (P) Object Assembly (P) Comprehension (V)
(P) Digit Symbol (P) Similarities (V)
The WAIS-R was standardized on nine age groups of "normal" American adults: 16-17,18-19, 20-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65-69, and 70-74 years. The sample selected in each age category was stratified by sex, geographical region, ethnicity (white vs. nonwhite), education, and occupation. Care was taken in selecting the older age samples so that, unlike the older adult sample of the preceding edition of the test, they were representative of the population of Americans in those categories.1
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