Are IQ tests useful?

Intelligence Testing Read more from
Chapter Major Movements in Psychology

The IQ, as measured by the WAIS, does a good job of measuring the kinds of cognitive skills that are useful for functioning in a complex, industrialized, modern society. These include abstract and verbal problem-solving skills and complex attention. The IQ gives a good general sense of the person’s overall intellectual performance. But when the data is interpreted, close attention must be paid to the subtests because an individual’s performance may vary widely, with very high scores on some tests and low scores on others. The IQ is also vulnerable to many cultural biases. The subtests and the functional indices are very useful, however, for providing a profile of an individual’s thought processes. This profile can be helpful in diagnosing various neurological or psychiatric conditions, such as dementia, depression, attention deficit disorder, or mental retardation. Thus, regardless of the person’s IQ score, the profile of subtests can be enormously helpful for clinical purposes.


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