Cultural Bias in Intelligence Testing

It is extremely difficult to develop a test that measures innate intelligence without introducing cultural bias. This has been virtually impossible to achieve. One attempt was to eliminate language and design tests with demonstrations and pictures. Another approach is to realize that culture-free tests are not possible and to design culture-fair tests instead. These tests draw on experiences found in many cultures.

Many college students have a middle-class background and may have difficulty appreciating the biases that are part of standardized intelligence tests, because their own background does not disadvantage them for these tests. By doing some intelligence tests which make non-mainstream cultural assumptions, students can come to experience some of the difficulties and issues involved with culturally biased methods of testing intelligence.

The Australian/American Intelligence Test The 10-item Australian/American Intelligence Test is drawn from typical items on standard Western-European intelligence tests.

The Original Australian Intelligence Test The 10-item Original Australian Intelligence Test is based on the culture of the Edward River Australian Aboriginal community in North Queensland.

Chitling Test of Intelligence One facetious attempt to develop an intelligence test that utilizes distinctively black-ghetto experiences is the Chitling Test. It is a humorous example that demonstrates well the built-in cultural bias found in most IQ tests. The Chitling Test (formally, the Dove Counterbalance General Intelligence Test) was designed by Adrian Dove, a Black sociologist. Aware of the dialect differences, he developed this exam as a half-serious attempt to show that American children are just not all speaking the same language. Those students who are not "culturally deprived" will score well. The original test has 30 multiple-choice questions - go to short version of the Chitling Intelligence Test (15 questions).

Redden-Simons "Rap" Test Other, similar tests have been developed for Blacks (for example, the Black Intelligence Test of Cultural Homogeneity by Robert L. Williams) and for the Chicano culture and the Redden-Simons Rap Test.

The Redden-Simons "Rap" Test is a 50-item, multiple-choice test of vocabulary items typical of "street language" in 1986, in Des Moines, Iowa. On the short version of the Redden-Simons "Rap" test (12-items), "street" individuals averaged eight correct items, and college students averaged only two correct items.

Using "street" norms, any student who does not get at least five items correct is mentally retarded.

Discussion questions After students have taken and scored their tests, many areas of discussion are possible:

How would you feel if these tests were used as a standardized intelligence test?

Are these intelligence tests fair? Why or why not?

What have you learned from taking this test in terms of how non-middle-class individuals might feel about typical standardized tests?

How would you work with someone who scores at an IQ of only 90 on a standardized intelligence test but very well on one of the other intelligence tests?

References Dove, A. The "Chitling" Test. From Lewis R. Aiken, Jr. (1971). Psychological and educational testings. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

"Taking the Chitling Test," Newsweek, July 15, 1968.

Redden, P. M., & Simons, J. A. (1986). Manual for the Redden-Simons "Rap" Test. Ankeny, IO: Des Moines Area Community College.