Individual Differences Essay

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Aim: Critically analyse procedures that have been, and are being used to assess cognitive ability. Include a description and explanation of differences between individuals of different class, race and gender in cognitive ability.

This essay will comprise of an analysis of intelligence testing as a means of testing cognitive ability, looking specifically at Galton, Binet and Terman and their contributions in this area. We will look closely at individual differences in cognitive ability, assessing the influence of our genetic make up and environmental influences and looking at how intelligence might be affected by gender, race and social class.

The debate over defining and measuring intelligence is vast.   There is not one agreed definition or form of assessment among psychologists.   One of the first recognized assessors of intelligence was Francis Galton.   Galton was widely known for his interest in the nature / nurture debates, but he was also a pioneer in cognitive assessment, producing the first cognitive abilities tests, the earliest of which drew on mental imagery to assess individual differences.   Eynsenck (1998) however, details how many of his tests have since been criticized as too simple, measuring sensory skills and not focusing on complex cognitive skills which later IQ tests have addressed.   Some psychologists have even argued that Sir Francis Galton could not in fact be considered as the founder of intelligence testing but that this honour should be accredited to Binet (1905).

Binet and his associate Simon were instructed to develop an intelligence test which could be given to young children to identify those requiring special education facilities based on their low intelligence.   In 1916 Terman adapted the test at Stanford University in California and the test became widely known as the Standford-Binet test. Terman belived that intelligence was inherited and that this could predict the success of an individual   Further revisions of this test...

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