Current Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 110–115 | Cite as

Measurements of Intelligence in sub-Saharan Africa: Perspectives Gathered from Research in Mali

  • Cissé Dramé
  • Christopher J. FergusonEmail author


One of the most controversial debates around intelligence testing regards how tests are used to measure intelligence among non-Western populations. Studies conducted since the 1930’s consistently indicate significant sub-average intelligence among African populations. The purpose of this study is to examine whether commonly used intelligence tests such as the Ravens Progressive Matrices are valid indices of cognitive functioning among children in Mali, Africa. Participants in the current study were 206 children from Mali attending French-language schools. The Woodcock-Johnson II math assessment was used to measure participants’ academic achievement. The Vineland II- Adaptive Behavior Scale (VABS) was used to indicate their adaptive functioning level. In this study, tests of IQ were compared against adaptive functioning and academic achievement, to examine whether IQ scores measured among African populations are artificially low or are an accurate measure of performance. IQ scores as measured by the Ravens were discrepant with standardized scores on math achievement and adaptive functioning. Results indicate that use of the Ravens may substantially underestimate the intelligence of children in Mali. This can be particularly problematic when comparisons are made across cultures using the same test and norms. . It is recommended that tests developed with local normative samples be used to assess for IQ.


Intelligence Child development Cross-cultural Testing Africa 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

None to declare for either author.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Texas A&M International UniversityLaredoUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyStetson UniversityDeLandUSA

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