Bias in Mental Testing

An Introduction to the Issues
  • Cecil R. Reynolds
  • Robert T. Brown
Part of the Perspectives on Individual Differences book series (PIDF)


Cultural bias in mental testing has been a recurring issue since the beginning of the testing movement itself. From Binet to Jensen, many professionals have addressed the problem, with varying and inconsistent outcomes. Unlike the pervasive and polemical nature-nurture argument, the bias issue has been until recently largely restricted to the professional literature, except for a few early discussions in the popular press (e.g., Freeman, 1923; Lippmann, 1923a,b). Of some interest is the fact that one of the psychologists who initially raised the question was the then-young Cyril Burt (1921), who even in the 1920s was concerned about the extent to which environmental and motivational factors affect performance on intelligence tests. Within the last few years, however, the question of cultural test bias has burst forth as a major contemporary problem far beyond the bounds of scholarly academic debate in psychology. For approximately the last decade, the debate over bias has raged in both the professional and the popular press (e.g., Fine, 1975). Entangled in the larger issues of individual liberties, civil rights, and social justice, the bias issue has become a focal point for psychologists, sociologists, politicians, and the public. Increasingly, the issue has become a political and legal one, as reflected in numerous court cases and passage in the state of New York and consideration elsewhere of “truth-in-testing” legislation.


Predictive Validity Mental Test Cultural Bias Test Bias Medical College Admission Test 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecil R. Reynolds
    • 1
  • Robert T. Brown
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Educational PsychologyTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of North CarolinaWilmingtonUSA

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