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Intelligence quotient.

While abnormal psychological phenomena have long interested physicians and scientists, the normal manifestations of the mind were what interested the French psychologist Alfred Binet (1857-1911).

He strove to devise tests that would measure the ability of the human mind to think and reason, independently of learning and education in one field or another.

To do this, he asked children to name objects, follow commands, rearrange disordered things, copy designs, and so on. In 1905 he and his associates published the first batteries of tests designed to measure intelligence.

Standards were set empirically. If a particular test was passed by some 70 percent or so of the nine-year-olds in the Paris school system, then it represented the nine-year-old level of intelligence.

The phrase intelligence quotient (often abbreviated IQ) became popular. It represents the ratio of the mental age to the chronological age, with 100 considered average. Thus, a six-year-old who can pass a ten-year-old's test has an IQ of 10/6 x 100, or 167.

Binet's initial efforts gave rise to batteries of tests designed to measure personalities, attitudes, aptitudes, and potentialities as well as intelligence--and their value is almost certainly overestimated.

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Author:Asimov, Isaac
Publication:Asimov's Chronology of Science & Discovery, Updated ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1994
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