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Social construct


Some maintain that IQ is a social construct invented by the privileged classes, used to maintain their privilege. Others maintain that intelligence, measured by IQ or g, reflects a real ability, is a useful tool in performing life tasks and has a biological reality.

The social-construct and real-ability interpretations for IQ differences can be distinguished because they make opposite predictions about what would happen if people were given equal opportunities. The social explanation predicts that equal treatment will eliminate differences, while the real-ability explanation predicts that equal treatment will accentuate differences. Evidence for both outcomes exists. Achievement gaps persist in socioeconomically advantaged, integrated, liberal, suburban school districts in the United States (see Noguera, 2001). Test-score gaps tend to be larger at higher socioeconomic levels (Gottfredson, 2003). Some studies have reported a narrowing of score gaps over time.

The reduction of intelligence to a single score seems extreme and unrealistic to many people. Opponents argue that it is much more useful to know a person's strengths and weaknesses than to know their IQ score. Such opponents often cite the example of two people with the same overall IQ score but very different ability profiles. As measured by IQ tests, most people have highly balanced ability profiles, with differences in subscores being greater among the more intelligent. However, this assumes the ability of IQ tests to comprehensively gauge the wide variety of human intellectual abilities.

The creators of IQ testing did not intend for the tests to gauge a person's worth, and in many (or, as some people suggest, all) situations, IQ may have little relevance.
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2012 Robert Artmann | Psychologist