Saturday, July 9, 2011

Intelligence Testing Article Analysis

Intelligence is defined as mental skills that facilitate reaching goals as well as the ability to utilize skills and knowledge in a variety of cultural settings (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Intelligence is the essential component that accommodates an organism's adaptation to its environment (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). Psychology's psychometric approach makes an assumption that intelligence can be quantitatively measured and given a numerical value (Shiraev & Levy, 2010). According to a cultural approach, human cognitive traits are intrinsic and gain expression according to biological programming and environmental influences. "Gardner, as have many others, has provided sound reasons to encourage us to dismiss the single factor constructs of intellectual functioning" (Morgan, 1996, p. 268).

Gardener's Intelligence Theory
Howard Gardner proposed a different view of intelligence, which expanded the traditional definition to incorporate spatial relations, music, mathematics, linguistic ability, and interpersonal knowledge (Brualdi, 1996). Gardner and Hatch (1989), define intelligence as "the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting" (p. 4), which deviated from the traditional view, which recognized verbal and mathematical skills. Gardner defines seven intelligences including logical/mathematical, linguistic, spatial, musical, bodily/kinesthetic, and two personal intelligences of interpersonal feelings and intentions of others, and intrapersonal. Gardner claims rather than working independently, the intelligences work concurrently and synergistically, complementing one another as individuals learn, evolve, and develop and master skills (Brualdi, 1996).

Gardner argued for the biological and cultural basis for multiple intelligences. To support his claims, he emphasized the findings of neurobiological research, which supports learning as an outcome of changes and basic function ability of the synaptic system. "Primary elements of different types of learning are found in particular areas of the brain where corresponding transformations have occurred" (Brualdi, 1996, p. 2). Thus, various synaptic connections in the brain generate different types of learning. For example, damage to Broca's area of the brain will result in the loss of ability to verbalize effectively, although will not affect the individual's ability to understand correct grammar and word use (Brualdi, 1996).

In addition to his biological basis for multiple intelligences, Gardner (1983) argues that culture also plays a more significant role in intelligence development than traditionally accepted. Various cultures value and perpetuate specific types of intelligences of consequence to the betterment and continuation of a culture. The more highly valued a skill is, the more provocative the motivation to become skilled in that particular discipline. One intelligence can be highly evolved because of a culture's values, while others may not be developed at all or developed to a far less extent (Gardner, 1983).

PASS Theory
Jagannath Prasad Das defines intelligence as the sum of cognitive processes, which includes coding information, planning, attention and arousal (Plucker, 2007). Das is a Canadian psychologist and past student of Hans Eysenck whose professional life has "focused on redefining human intelligence by providing an empirically-supported and clinically useful alternative to the g-based theories of cognitive ability" (Plucker, 2007, para. 7). He and his colleagues developed the PASS theory, which is an acronym for Planning, Attention-Arousal, and Simultaneous and Successive model of processing.

G-based theories of human intelligence claim human intellectual functioning can be best explained as a unitary quality, which is foundational to all cognitive processes (Das & Abbott, 1995). PASS Theory is challenges the g-theory (generalization theory) based on neuropsychological research that demonstrates the brain is composed of distinct interdependent systems (Plucker, 2007). Similar to Gardner's belief, Das and his colleagues referenced neuroimaging studies of compartmentalized brain damage in which one area's function suffers impairment, but other functions continue unaffected (Das & Abbott, 1995).

Evaluating the Effectiveness of Intelligence Testing
Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligences provides a basis for identifying and accommodating the different abilities and cognitive skills of people cross-culturally (Brualdi, 1996). As cultures vary widely in their systems of value, different values promote motivation that facilitates skill in areas of consequence to the culture. Within the United States, various cultures perform differently on intelligence and other psychological tests because they give value to some skills and knowledge, and less to others (Morgan, 1996). Gardner's theory accommodates differences in intelligences cross-culturally, and is generally a more realistic measure of intelligence (Morgan, 1996). It is imperative to remember testing intelligence, as with any judgment placed on individuals in a culture, must be entrenched in a parameter that considers the underlying values of the cultural context in which measurement is sought (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991).

The PASS theory supports the theoretical parameter for the Naglieri-Das Cognitive Assessment System, which provides a "nuanced assessment of the individual's intellectual functioning, providing information about cognitive strengths and weaknesses in each of the four processes" (Fein & Day, 2004, p. 1127). The emphasis on processes, rather than intelligence and ability makes it more compatible cross-culturally, and far more appropriate than general IQ tests (Plucker, 2007). Generally many systems, including the educational one, stress the importance of mathematical and language skills, which, in all fairness, is not appropriate for many individuals including ethnic minorities in the United States, nor is it an accurate cross-cultural measurement (Fein & Day, 2004). Traditional intelligence-measuring constructs require the demonstration of knowledge in a uniform, predetermined manner, which grossly overrates a few skills and underestimates, negates, and invalidates other types of intelligence, knowledge, and skills.


The bias in which intelligence testing is engulfed makes them a useful measurement of only a small percentage of populations cross-culturally. Constructs such as Gardner's multiple intelligences and the PASS theory facilitate the bridging of wide cross-cultural gaps in valid measuring tools. Micro cultures within the United States and foreign cultures cannot be adequately or fairly measured by biased IQ and many other psychological tests (Brualdi, 1996). When testing correlates social success with IQ scores, it paints a distorted picture with a definitive bias often construed as racism, sexism, or imperialism. Measuring intelligence must include the human component by which individuals value what is of consequence within their culture (Solomon, Greenberg, & Pyszczynski, 1991). The measurement must be embedded within a parameter that accounts for this intrinsic application of value, and must consider the underlying cultural context of knowledge and learning.


Brualdi, A. C. (1996). Multiple intelligences Gardner's theory (pp. 1-4, Publication No. RR93002002). Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Assessment and Evaluation. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED410226)

Das, J., & Abbott, J. (1995). PASS: An alternative approach to intelligence. Psychology & Developing Societies, 7(2), 155-183. doi: 10.1177/097133369500700204

Fein, E., & Day, E. (2004). The PASS theory of intelligence and the acquisition of a complex skill: a criterion-related validation study of cognitive assessment system scores. Personality and Individual Differences, 37(6), 1123-1136. doi: 10.1016/j.paid.2003.11.017

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind: the theory of multiple intelligences. New York, NY: BasicBooks.

Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational Researcher, 18(8), 4. doi: 10.2307/1176460

Morgan, H. (1996). An analysis of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligence. Roeper Review, 18(4), 263-269. doi: 10.1080/02783199609553756

Plucker, J. (2007). Human Intelligence: J.P. Das. Indiana University. Retrieved June 17, 2011, from

Shiraev, E. B. & Levy, D. A. (2010). Cross-cultural psychology: critical thinking and contemporary applications (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson/Allyn Bacon.

Solomon, S., Greenberg, J., & Pyszczynski, T. (1991). Advances in experimental social psychology. San Diego: Academic Press.

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