The cultural malleability of intelligence and its impact on the racial/ethnic hierarchy

Psychology Public Policy and Law (Impact Factor: 1.93). 05/2005; 11(2):320-327. DOI: 10.1037/1076-8971.11.2.320


This commentary highlights previous literature (see record
2005-03637-001) focusing on cultural and environmental explanations for the racial/ethnic group hierarchy of intelligence. Assumptions underlying definitions of intelligence, heritability/genetics, culture, and race are noted. Historical, contextual, and testing issues are clarified. Specific attention is given to studies supporting stereotype threat, effects of mediated learning experiences, and relative functionalism. Current test development practices are critiqued with respect to methods of validation and item development. Implications of the genetic vs. culture-only arguments are discussed with respect to the malleability of IQ. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)

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Available from: Joshua m Aronson, Sep 29, 2015
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    • "Furthermore, he observed that although most IQ tests correlate with performance on educational achievement tests and, therefore, as concluded by Neisser et al. (1996; p. 93) may be said to have no “predictive bias,” achievement tests are known to be unfair to certain groups in which low SES and minority status is overrepresented. Thus, the correlation between educational achievement and IQ scores could be interpreted not in terms of predictive validity but rather as a confirmation of another sense of test bias, by some called “outcome bias” (Neisser et al., 1996; p. 93) by others related to “cultural bias” in the construction and administration of the tests (Suzuki and Valencia, 1997; Suzuki and Aronson, 2005) and yet by others differentiated as “fairness” (Helms, 2006). "
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    • "Insiders object when skeptics dismiss searches for subtle prejudice as mere rationalizations of hard-core commitments—arguing that researchers have discovered new, not just reinterpreted old, phenomena (Banaji et al., 2004; Greenwald, et al., 2006). Similarly, insiders insist that recent research on stereotype threat provides empirical substance to Proposition # 5 by showing how standardized tests underestimate human capital among disadvantaged groups by failing to take into account the power of "stereotype threat" to depress scores (Suzuki & Aronson, 2005). And insiders argue that research on Just World theory (Lerner & Lerner, 1978; Hafer & Bègue, 2005), the fundamental attribution error (Ross, 1977), and the ultimate attribution error (Pettigrew, 1979) empirically substantiates the contention that people—majority and minority groups alike—are insensitive to the impact of structural barriers on success rates, thereby protecting Proposition # 6 against the objection that it just licenses name-calling. "
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    • "Are racial differences in IQ due to differences in intellectual ability or to differences in exposure to information? Recent reviews published in the American Psychologist (Anderson & Nickerson, 2005; Cooper, 2005; Rowe, 2005; Sternberg, Grigorenko, & Kidd, 2005) and in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law (Gottfredson, 2005; Nisbett, 2005; Rushton & Jensen, 2005; Sternberg, 2005; Suzuki & Aronson, 2005) indicate that there is no agreed upon answer to the controversial issue of the source of racial differences in IQ. As Sternberg, Grigorenko, and Kidd note, we first need to know what intelligence is to understand the source of racial differences in IQ. "
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