This article throws light upon the five major consequences of using intelligence tests.
1. Intelligence tests which were developed by Binet originally for use in the classroom situation have spread things very wide. Today intelligence tests are made use of by a variety of organisations and agencies like the army, hospitals, business and industrial organisations, the police and many more such agencies for selection of personnel either for screening or even as one of the considerations for recruitment on the basis of an individual performance or IQ. In fact often they are used indiscriminately.
2. While early test constructors attempted to define the nature of intelligence on the basis of the logical analysis, today the nature of the test seems to be governed by what type of intelligence the users want to measure. Very rarely does one come across formal definitions of intelligence.
The practice of measuring intelligence and the felt need to measure intelligence seem to have established a grasp over test constructors and users to such an extent that the need to define and understand the nature of intelligence has been relegated to the background. Very often such tests are based on impressionistic assumptions.
3. Yet another trend which to some extent flows from the above, is the tendency to fabricate rather than develop self-contained and logically self-consistent tests (because they do not bother to answer the question of what is intelligence) borrowing a few items from one battery and a few from the other.
Tests are developed based on convenience and one’s own whimsical ideas. There is a mushroom growth of third rate and absolutely substandard tests. Professional ethics in many instances have been given the go-by. Many of the tests do not have standard norms.
4. A result of this is that some test constructors and users do not even bother to make sure, whether these tests are reliable (whether the scores obtained can be depended upon as to be measured) and valid (whether they really measure intelligence or something else.)
5. A very interesting and important development relates to the mode of calculating the IQ. Unlike the traditional procedure of measuring the mental age and then arrive at the IQ, today the IQ is established by comparing the individuals score with the scores of a particular group to which he or she belongs and finding out the extent to which the score of the person differs from the average.
The intelligence test scores are generally believed to be distributed normally. In many instances, particularly where the test is used for screening, even this practice is done away with and an arbitrary cut off point is adopted. For example, if an organisation wants to select 20 persons and decides to have only 40 candidates for further selection process, then the top forty candidates are screened in. One can clearly see the absence of any logic and almost a blatant misuse of intelligence tests.
In fact, very rarely there is the use of the term ‘mental age’ excepting when the Stanford-Binet test or one of its adaptations is used for individual assessment, for educational or clinical purpose. Very often even the IQ as a measure is done away with and percentile scores are used. The percentile scores indicate what percentage of the population gets scores below that of the concerned person.
Thus, if an individual’s percentile score is 91, this means that 90% of his or her peers get scores below. While in one way, one can understand the tendency to do away with terms like mental age and IQ as they are based on certain unproven assumptions, the emerging trends are very often illogical and unscientific. People who used such practices seem to believe in market economy and assume that anything that sells must be good.