Theoretical and Technical Issues in Identifying a Factor of General Intelligence

  • John B. Carroll


A main thrust of Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve 1 was to describe the role of intelligence in American society, or, in particular, the role of the famous g factor originally postulated by Spearman.2,3 Early on in their book, they made several assertions about g that they believed were “by now beyond significant technical dispute” (p. 22), including the proposition that “[t]here is such a thing as a general factor of cognitive ability on which human beings differ.” It is understandable that they felt able to make such an assertion, in that at least some of the more prominent current experts in psychometrics were on record as holding the view that g exists 4-13 Moreover, they mentioned, or could have mentioned, various social scientists who assume the existence of g.14-16 In citing Snyderman and Rothman’s (1988) survey of opinions in a large sample of educational psychologists and other scholars, they were correct in inferring that most of the respondents in that survey believed that a general factor of intelligence can be identified.17


Confirmatory Factor Analysis General Factor Exploratory Factor Analysis Factor Matrix General Intelligence 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

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  • John B. Carroll

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