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Untangling The Relationship Between Race And Intelligence

1270 words - 6 pages

A psychosocial phenomenon known as ‘race’ has the power to bind a group of people together and determine how they are expected to behave (Kendig, 2011). Our behaviour is determined by another phenomenon known as ‘intelligence’ (Colom, Karama, Jung, & Haier, 2010). Since these are both such fundamental aspects of how our society functions, it is crucial for psychologists to understand how these factors interact. However, despite many circulating theories, psychologists have yet to agree upon the extent to which these phenomena affect each other. In this essay, I will explore the reasons for division and ambiguity in the scientific community regarding the definitions and explanations of race and intelligence, and assess whether it is prudent to assess their effect on each other at present. I will first address the issue that intelligence quotient (IQ) test scores do not indicate a fundamental intellectual ability, due to the dissonance between races and their understanding of intelligence. In order to impartially gauge the intelligence of an individual, it is scientifically valid to consider their specific context, as the diversity of cultural values strongly affects the importance put on certain abilities, which in turn affects how intelligence must be measured (Bouchard, 1998). Empirical evidence suggests intelligence is a combination of socially mediated mechanisms and genetics (Berg, et al., 2005). Environmental factors, such as education and social support, as well as genetic contributions, appear to be equally responsible for group differences in intelligence (Deary, Spinath, & Bates, 2006). Intelligence, however, is not a static concept as IQ scores can be actively and passively altered over time (Ramsden, et al., 2011). Sternberg, Grigorenko, and Kidd (2005) point out that most IQ tests assess learned information, such as language and mathematics, rather than a universal intelligence. In consideration of this, many psychologists have queried whether having a socioeconomic advantage is the cause or the consequence of superior intellect. Although it was widely accepted that social class differences were responsible for differences in intelligence, current research suggests the opposite is true (Trzaskowski, et al., 2014). At present, very few definitive statements can be made about the impact of race on intelligence.
Since the conception of g-factor theory in 1904 (Spearman), the controversy surrounding the true measurement of intelligence and the presence of a universal intelligence has been prevalent within the psychological community. Each theory of intelligence has not only a different method of testing intelligence, but also a different definition of intelligence, which each creator ascribes to. IQ testing is currently one of the most widely used tools for intelligence measurement, however, research suggests it is a poor predictor of future academic success for particular cultural groups (Gardner, 1993). In one of the largest...

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