IQ Tests History

IQ tests history

IQ tests history starts from the day when first man was recruited for a job. However, the intelligence measurement has developed into an art. There are intelligence tests for fun as well as for a serious business of recruitment.

The ancient philosophers had realized that intellectual capabilities of different people are different from others. However, their assessment results depended too much upon their subjective measurements.
It was Sir Frances Galton, the British scientist, who calculated first time the reasons for achievement of different persons in prominent families. He wrote his famous book Hereditary Genius (1869). He studied the people from different generations and completed his work when no formal measures of intelligence were available. Galton evaluated each person on his fame as judged by encyclopedias, honors, awards, and such other accomplishments.

He concluded in his book that eminence ran in families and it was due to a hereditary component. Believing that some human abilities derived from hereditary factors, Galton founded the eugenics movement, which says that in order to get the better human species selective breeding of gifted individuals was essential.

Galton ran a laboratory where people could have themselves calculated on a number of physical and psychological characteristics. He related intellectual abilities to skills such as reaction time, understanding of physical stimuli, and body level. He measured the highest and lowest pitch of a person with which he could hear. He also measured how well a person could detect insignificant differences between weights, colors, smells, and other physical stimuli.

In spite of the racist nature of his works, Galton was a pioneer in the IQ tests history. His work helped to get a foundation to develop statistical concepts and techniques for the latter’s. Some of his techniques are still in use even today. He was the first to put forth the concept that intelligence can be quantitatively measured.

James McKeen Cattell

He was an American psychologist and a contemporary of Sir Galton. He developed a set of 50 tests with support of Sir Galton that attempted to measure basic mental ability. Like Galton, Cattell focused on measurements of sensory discrimination and reaction times.

IQ tests history in 20th Century

Any aspect of human conduct can be measured by methods comprising of carefully prescribed content, technique of administration, and interpretation.

Tests may address almost any aspect of intellectual or emotional performance, including personality traits, attitudes, intelligence, or emotional concerns.

Alfred Binet

A French psychologist Alfred Binet and his colleague Théodore Simon formulated one of the first tests of general intelligence in 1905. This test was to identify children, which face difficulties in ordinary schools so that they could receive special education. The two developed a 30-item scale to make sure that no child could be denied education in the Paris school system. The Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale American adaptation of Binet’s test is still used today.

Lewis Terman

An American psychologist Lewis Terman fashioned the first Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon scale In 1916.It was formulated to provide comparison standards for Americans from age three to maturity. In 1937 and 1960the test was revised.

Nowadays the Stanford-Binet test is one of the most widely used intelligence tests.

Classification of Soldiers in World War I

During World War I the need to classify soldiers resulted in the development of two group intelligence tests—Army Alpha and Army Beta. To help distinguish soldiers who might stop working in combat, the American psychologist Robert Woodworth designed the Personal Data Sheet. It proved a forerunner of the modern personality inventory.

IQ tests history in 1930s and later

Disagreement over the nature of intelligence led to the formulation of the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale. It provided a catalog of general mental ability and exposed patterns of intellectual power and flaws. The Wechsler tests are as prominent as the Stanford-Binet.


With the interest in the psychoanalysis in the 1930s, two important projective techniques were introduced:


  • The Rorschach or inkblot test—developed by the Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach.
  • A story-telling process called the Thematic Apperception Test—developed by the American psychologists Henry A. Murray and C. D. Morgan.

Both these tests are often included in contemporary personality assessment.


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