Stanford-Binet IQ test

Stanford-Binet IQ test

The development of the Stanford-Binet IQ test initiated the modern field of intelligence testing. The Stanford-Binet test started with the French psychologist Alfred Binet, whom the French government commissioned with developing a method of identifying intellectually deficient children for their placement in special education programs. As Binet indicated, case studies might be more detailed and helpful, but the time required to test many people would be excessive. Unfortunately, the tests he and assistant Victor Henri (1892-1940) developed in 1896 were disappointing (Fancher, 1985).


Later, Alfred Binet and physician Theodore Simon collaborated in studying mental retardation in French school children. Between 1905 and 1908, their research at a boys school, in Grange-aux-Belles, led to their developing the Binet-Simon tests; via increasingly difficult questions, the tests measured attention, memory, and verbal skill. Binet warned that such test scores not be interpreted literally, because intelligence is plastic and the margin of error inherent to the test (Fancher, 1985).

In 1916, Stanford psychologist Lewis Terman released the "Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale", the "Stanford-Binet", in short. Helped by graduate students and validation experiments, he removed some Binet-Simon test items, and added new ones. Soon, the test was so popular that Robert Yerkes, the president of the American Psychological Association, decided to use it in developing the "Army Alpha" and the "Army Beta" tests to classify recruits. Thus, a high-scoring recruit might earn an A-grade (high officer material), whereas a low-scoring recruit with an E-grade would be rejected for military service. (Fancher, 1985).

Present use

Since the inception of the Stanford-Binet, it has been revised several times. Currently, the test is in its fifth edition which is called the Stanford-Binet 5. According to the publisher's website, "The SB5 was normed on a stratified random sample of 4,800 individuals that matches the 2000 U.S. Census. Bias reviews were conducted on all items for gender, ethnic, cultural/religious, regional, and socioeconomic status issues. Validity data was obtained using such instruments as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition, the Stanford-Binet Form L-M, the Woodcock-Johnson III, the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test, the Bender-Gestalt, the WAIS-III, the WIAT-II, the WISC-III, and the WPPSI-R."Fact|date=September 2008

Low variation on individuals tested multiple times indicates the test has high reliability, although its validity is hotly debated (see below). It features Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory as the five factors tested. Each of these factors is tested in two separate domains, verbal and nonverbal, in order to accurately assess individuals with deafness, limited English, or communication disorders. Examples of test items include verbal analogies to test Verbal Fluid Reasoning and picture absurdities to test Nonverbal Knowledge. In conclusion, the test makers assure people the Stanford-Binet 5 will accurately assess low-end functioning, normal intelligence, and the highest levels of giftedness (Riverside Publishing, 2004).

Students with exceptional scores on this test may be deemed bright, moderately gifted, highly gifted, extremely gifted, or profoundly gifted (contrast these with obsolete terms for low scores). These terms equate with progressively further standard deviations of IQ scores from the mean (100), bright being 1σ (one standard deviation), moderately gifted 2σ, etc. Mensa currently requires a score of 132 on the Stanford-Binet. Since the test has a standard deviation of 16, this corresponds to 2σ above the mean in a normalized population.


Despite the recent revision (Stanford-Binet 5), some controversy remains as to the accuracy and bias of this testFact|date=July 2007; however, many psychologists believe the evidence available shows that the Stanford-Binet test is valid, and it remains a popular assessment of intelligence.

As Brown & French point out, "IQ tests serve one function exceptionally well, they predict academic success or failure ... they are composed of items that are representative of the kinds of problems that traditionally dominate school curricula," (1979: 255) and thus only predict that category of school assimilation. Further, "children with the same current status on an IQ test item may vary quite widely in terms of their cognitive potential." ("ibid".: 258)

The validity of standardised tests such as Stanford-Binet for testing general intelligence (and indeed the whole concept of general intelligence) has been disputed by a number of commentators. A notable example, though not an intelligence researcher, is Stephen Jay Gould, particularly in his book "The Mismeasure of Man". According to Gould, Binet originally devised his test to be carried out one-on-one with an examiner for detecting problem areas, rather than as a means of linearly ranking the general intelligence of students.

ee also

* Educational psychology
* School psychology
* Intelligence quotient
* Cognitive test


*Brown, A. L. and L. A. French (1979). "The zone of potential development: implications for intelligence testing in the year 2000." "Intelligence" 3(3): 255-271.

*Fancher, R. (1985). "The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy". New York:W.W. Norton & Company

*Gould, Stephen Jay. (1981) "The Mismeasure of Man". New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co.

* [ History of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales:Content and Psychometrics Kirk A. Becker]

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