, Volume 99, Issue 2–3, pp 113–123 | Cite as

Psychological testing, IQ, and evolutionary fitness

  • Gordon M. Harrington


Individual, group, and ethnic differences in behavior have been an object of long, continuing, and contentious interest, both in the sciences and in popular culture. For well over 2,000 years, psychological traits, particularly those described as ‘intelligence’, have generally been considered the major factors in fitness in humans. After reviewing contemporary scientific thinking on intelligence, the psychometric methods used for the construction of psychological tests are presented and examined in the context of natural selection and metric characters. There are essential differences between the disciplines of genetics and of psychology such that the concepts of the two are more divergent than might superficially appear to be the case. The analysis leads to the conclusion that standard psychometric methodology cannot yield tests appropriate for measurement of evolutionary fitness characters.

evolutionary fitness intelligence metric characters psychometric methods race 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aristotle, 1910. The Works of Aristotle Translated into English: Historia Animalium, Vol. 4. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle, 1912. The Works of Aristotle Translated into English: De Partibus Animalium, De Motu and De Incessu Animalium, De Generatione Animalium, Vol. 5. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  3. Binet, A. & T. Simon, 1905. Methodes nouvelle pour le diagnostic du niveau intellectual des anormaux. Année Psychol. 11: 191–244.Google Scholar
  4. Binet, A. & T. Simon, 1908. La developpement de l'intelligence chez les enfants. Année Psychol. 14: 1–4.Google Scholar
  5. CavalliSforza, L.L., P. Menozzi & A. Piazza, 1994. The History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.Google Scholar
  6. Davenport, J.W., W.W. Hagquist & G.R. Rankin, 1970. The symmetrical maze: An automated closedfield test series for rats. Behav. Res. Meth. Instrum. 2: 112–118.Google Scholar
  7. Dunn, L.C., 1965. A Short History of Genetics. McGrawHill, New York.Google Scholar
  8. Falconer, D.S., 1983. An Introduction to Quantitative Genetics. Longman, New York, 2nd edn.Google Scholar
  9. Fisher, R.A., 1918. The correlation between relatives on the supposition of Mendelian inheritance. Trans. R. Soc. Edinb. 52: 399–433.Google Scholar
  10. Fisher, R.A., 1930. The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection. Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  11. Geber, M. & R.F. Dean, 1957. Gesell tests on African children. Pediatrics 20: 1055–1065.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Haeckel, E., 1910. The Evolution of Man, Vol. 1,2. Putnam, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Haeckel, E., 1977. Last words on evolution. In Significant Contributions to the History of Psychology, 1750–1920, Vol. 3 of Series D. Comparative Psychology. Carnegie Institution of Washington.Google Scholar
  14. Harrington, G.M., 1975. Intelligence tests may favor the majority groups in a population. Nature, Lond. 258: 708–709.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Harrington, G.M., 1981. The Har strains of rats: Origins and characteristics. Behav. Genet. 11: 445–468.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Harrington, G.M., 1988. Two forms of minority test bias as psychometric artifacts with an animal model. J. Comp. Psychol. 102: 400–407.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hebb, D.O., 1958. A Textbook of Psychology. Saunders, Philadelphia.Google Scholar
  18. Hebb, D.O. & K. Williams, 1946. A method of rating animal intelligence. J. Genet. Psychol. 34: 59–65.Google Scholar
  19. Herrnstein, R.J. & C. Murray, 1994. The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  20. Jensen, A.R., 1974. What is the question? what is the evidence? Vol. 2, pp. 203–244 in The Psychologists, edited by T.W. Krawiec. Oxford University Press, New York.Google Scholar
  21. Jensen, A.R., 1980. Bias in Mental Testing. Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  22. Kempthorne, O., 1978. Logical, epistemological and statistical aspects of naturenurture data interpretation. Biometrics 34: 1–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kempthorne, O., 1997. Heritability: Uses and abuses. Genetica 99: 109–112.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Larry P. vs. Riles, 1972. 343 F Supp. 1306 (1972).Google Scholar
  25. Livesey, P.M., 1966. The rat, rabbit, and cat in the Hebb-Williams closed field test of animal intelligence. Aust. J. Psychol. 18: 71–79.Google Scholar
  26. Lovejoy, A.O., 1936. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  27. Mainstream science on intelligenc, 1994. Wall Street Journal. Dec. 13 p. A18.Google Scholar
  28. McNemar, Q., 1942. The Revision of the Stanford-Binet Scale, an Analysis of the Standardization Data. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.Google Scholar
  29. Morgan, L.H., 1964. Ancient Society. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  30. Morse, J., 1914. A comparison of white and colored children measured by the Binet scale of intelligence. Pop. Sci. Mon. 84 (Part 1): 75–79.Google Scholar
  31. Pins, K., 1995. Iowa native behind 'Bell Curve' debate. Des Moines Register p. 1.Google Scholar
  32. Rabinovitch, H.S. & H. Rosvold, 1951. A closedfield intelligence test for rats. Can. J. Psychol. 5: 122–128.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Rushton, J.P., 1995. Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective. Transaction Publishers, New Brunswick, NJ.Google Scholar
  34. Spearman, C., 1904a. 'General intelligence' objectively determined and measured. Am. J. Psychol. 15: 201–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spearman, C., 1904b. The proof and measurement of association between two things. Am. J. Psychol. 15: 72–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Spencer, H., 1876. The comparative psychology of man. Pop. Sci. Mon. 8: 257–269.Google Scholar
  37. Stocking, G.W., 1968. Race, Culture, and Evolution: Essays in the History of Anthropology. Free Press, New York.Google Scholar
  38. Thorndike, E.L., 1898. Animal intelligence. Psychol. Monogr. 2:(4).Google Scholar
  39. Thorndike, E.L., 1904. An Introduction to the Theory of Mental and Social Measurements. Science Press, New York.Google Scholar
  40. Tylor, E.B., 1889. Primitive culture: researches into the development of mythology, philosophy, religion, language, art, and custom, Vol. 1, 2. Holt, New York, 3rd edn.Google Scholar
  41. Warren, N., 1972. African infant precocity. Psychol. Bull. 78: 353–367.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Young, K., 1922. Intelligence tests of certain immigrant groups. Scient. Mon. 15: 417–434.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon M. Harrington
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Northern IowaCedar FallsUSA

Personalised recommendations