Info iconThis preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

Unformatted text preview: CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN SOCIETY THE BELL CURVE AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY IN THE U.S. By: Lauren Breedlove, Porscha Johnson, Scott Reyner, and Greg Webb INTRODUCTION The fact that the word intelligence describes something real and that it varies form person to person is as universal and ancient as any understanding about the state of being human. Variation in intelligence became the subject of productive scientific study in the last half of the 19th century, stimulated, by Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. INTELLIGENCE ASCENDANT Darwin asserted that the transmission of inherited intelligence was a key step in human evolution. Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, read Origin of Species. People vary in their intellectual abilities and the differences matter, to them personally and to society. Not only are some people smarter than others, said Galton, but each person's pattern of intellectual abilities is unique. From these observations, Galton tried to devise an intelligence test, as we understand the term today: a set of items probing intellectual capabilities that could be graded objectively. Galton constructed tests that relied on measures of acuity of sight and hearing, sensitivity to slight pressures on the skin, and speed of reaction to simple stimuli. His tests failed. By the end of the 19th century, mental tests were in use in the British Commonwealth, the U.S., Japan, and much of continental Europe. The correlation coefficient was first devised by Galton in 1888 and elaborated by his disciple Karl Pearson. With Pearson's r, as the coefficient was labeled, scientists could specify "how much" of a relationship existed, on a scale ranging from 1 (for perfectly inverse relationships) to +1 (for perfectly direct relationships). Spearman's method of analysis, called factor analysis, uncovered evidence for a unitary mental factor, which he named g, for "general intelligence." He hypothesized that g is a general capacity for inferring and applying relationships drawn from experience. By 1908, the concept of mental level (later called mental age) had been developed, A few years later the intelligence quotient (IQ) became a way of expressing a person's (usually a child's) mental level relative to his or her contemporaries. A new specialty within psychology was created, psychometrics, that produced an expanded understanding of what was involved in mental capacity. Since intelligence tests purport to test rigorously an important and valued trait about people, IQ also became one of the most visible and controversial products of social science. The first wave of controversy occurred when enthusiasts proposed using the results of mental tests to support outrageous racial policies. During the 1930s, David Wechsler developed the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS) and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC). Shortly after WWII, psychologists at the University of Minnesota developed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the first machine gradable standardized test with demonstrated validity as a predictor of various personality disorders. Later came the California Psychological Inventory, which measured personality characteristics within the normal range "social presence" and "selfcontrol," for example. INTELLIGENCE BESIEGED In the 1960s it became controversial to claim, especially in public, that genes had any effect at all on intelligence. However, the evidence for genetic factors in intelligence had greatly strengthened. To those with the behaviorist view, human potential was almost perfectly malleable, shaped by the environment. The causes of human deficiencies in intelligence lay outside the individual and could be fixed by the right public policies. In 1969, Arthur Jensen, an educational psychologist, noted that IQ had a large heritable component. He also disclosed that historically blacks as a population had exhibited average IQs substantially below those of whites. The reaction to Jensen's article was immediate. Dozens of books and hundreds of articles appeared denouncing the use of IQ tests through the mid1970s. The uproar was exacerbated by William Shockley who proposed that as a "thought exercise," a scheme for paying people with low IQs to be sterilized and supported a sperm bank for geniuses. Also in 1971, the US Supreme court outlawed the use of standardized ability tests by employers unless they had a "manifest relationship" to the specific job in question because standardized tests acted as "builtin headwinds" for minority groups, even in the absence of discriminatory intent. In 1981 Stephen Gould examined the history of intelligence testing, found that it was peopled by charlatans, racists, and self deluded fools, and concluded that "determinist arguments for ranking people according to a single scale of intelligence, no matter how numerically sophisticated, have recorded little more than social prejudice. INTELLIGENCE REDUX The dialogue about testing has been conducted at two levels during the last two decadesthe visible one played out in the press and the subterranean one played out in the technical journals and books. In the 1970s, scholars observed that colleagues who tried to say anything publicly about IQ tests paid too high a price. So, why speak out when there was no compelling reason to do so? Research on cognitive abilities continued to flourish, but only in the sanctuary of the ivory tower. By the early 1990s, the contending parties within the professional community were: the classicists, the revisionists, and the radicals. THE CLASSICISTS: INTELLIGENCE IS A STRUCTURE The classicists work within the tradition begun by Spearman, seeking to identify the components of intelligence. In their view, g is one of the most thoroughly demonstrated entitities in the behavioral sciences and one of the most powerful for understanding socially significant human variation. For Spearman, there was just one primary ability, g. For Raymond Cattell, there are two kinds of g: crystallized g being general intelligence transformed into the skills of one's own culture and fluid g being the allpurpose intellectual capacity from which the crystallized skills are formed. THE REVISIONISTS: INTELLIGENCE AS INFORMATION PROCESSING A theory of intelligence need not be structural. It may try to figure out what a person is doing when exercising his or her intelligence, rather than what elements of intelligence are put together. Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, believed that errors revealed what the underlying processes of thought must have been. The processes of intelligences fascinated him and in time led to his theory of the stages of cognitive development. The revisionists accept that a general mental ability much like Spearman's g has to be incorporated into any theory of the structure of intelligence, although they would disagree that it accounts for as much of the intellectual variation among people as many classicists claim. They use the same statistical tools as the classicists but they differ in their attitude toward intellectual structure and the tests used to measure it. Yale psychologist Robert Sternberg developed a "triarchy of intelligence" or "three aspects of human information processing." The first part attempts to describe the internal architecture of intellectual functioning. The second part addresses the role of intelligence in routinizing performance. The third part attacks the question that has been central to the controversy over intelligence tests: the relationship of intelligence to the real world in which people function. People function in three mechanisms: Adaptation (trying to make the best of a situation) Shaping the external environment so that it conforms more closely to the desired state of affairs Selecting a new environment altogether THE RADICALS: THE THEORY OF MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES Intelligence seemed more like beauty or justice than height or weight to Walter Lippman. Before something can be measured, it must be defined. Theory of multiple intelligences formulated by Howard Gardner, a Harvard psychologist. Gardner's seven intelligences are: linguistic, musical, logicalmathematical, spatial, bodilykinesthetic, and two forms of "personal intelligence," the intrapersonal and interpersonal, each based on its own unique computational capacity. For Gardner, as for many other thinkers on intelligence, the notion of problem solving is central. Gardner's view is radical in that he rejects the notion of a general intelligence factor and argues the case for seven intelligences instead. It is also radical in that he does not defend his theory with quantitative data. His work is uniquely devoid of psychometric or other quantitative evidence. Nearly all current tests are devised so that they call principally upon linguistic and logical facility... Accordingly, individuals with these skills are likely to do well even in tests of musical or spatial abilities, while those who are not especially facile linguistically and logically are likely to be impaled on such standardized tests. THE PERSPECTIVE OF THIS BOOK This book will be drawing most heavily from the classical tradition. Their topic is the relationship of human abilities to public policy and will be dealing in relationships that are based on aggregated data, which is where the classical tradition has the most to offer. With regard to the radicals and theory of multiple intelligences, socially significant individual differences include a wide range of human talents that do not fit within the classical conception of intelligence. They agree emphatically with Howard Gardner, however, that the concept of intelligence has taken on a much higher place in the pantheon of human virtues than it deserves. They have reservations about using the word intelligence to describe factors such as musical and kinesthetic abilities, where talent is a word with a domain and weight of its own. The identification of IQ with attractive human qualities in general is unfortunate and wrong. Statistically, there is only a modest correlation with such qualities. Their point is that: Measures of intelligence have reliable statistical relationships with important social phenomena, but they are a limited tool for deciding what to make of any given individual. Howard Gardner convinced them that the word intelligence carries with it undue affect and political baggage, therefore they will employ the more neutral term cognitive ability. They will also use IQ as a generic synonym for intelligence test score. Six conclusions regarding tests of cognitive ability drawn from the classical tradition: 1. 2. There is such a thing as a general factor of cognitive ability on which human beings differ. All standardized tests of academic aptitude or achievement measure this general factor to some degree, but IQ tests expressly designed for that purpose measure it most accurately. 1. 2. 3. 4. IQ scores match, to a first degree, whatever it is that people mean when they use the word intelligent or smart in ordinary language. IQ scores are stable, although not perfectly so, over much of a person's life. Properly administered IQ tests are not demonstrably biased against social, economic, ethnic, or racial groups. Cognitive ability is substantially heritable, apparently no less than 40% and no more than 80%. All six points can be accurate as general rules and still leave room for differences in the theoretical and practical conclusions that people of different values and perspectives draw from them. Two steps to help you form your own judgements: 1. 2. They deal with specific issues involving the six points as they arise in the natural course of the discussion. They try to provide a level of detail that will satisfy different levels of technical curiosity through the use of boxed material, notes, and appendixes. The Emergence of a Cognitive Elite Intelligence Review Definition: Capacity of learning, reasoning and understanding; manifestation of high mental capacity; ability to learn The focus is on ABILITY Cognition Definition: Act or mental process of knowing; perception; incorporates how one uses intelligence The focus is on PROCESS History of Social Stratification 20th Century: stratification based on heredity (money, power, and status) 21st Century: stratification based on cognitive ability (shift still occurring) intelligence gradually becoming the controlling force in establishing social class structure Why the Change? Cognitive elite needed a technological society in order to be of influence Brightest youths being identified and isolated in earlier stages of education Becoming more and more universally advantageous to be smart Later, principles of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society during 1960's (i.e. affirmative action) 1950's Largest growth in number of college students in history Drastic improvement in elite colleges selection process in order to get the most elite students Classified brightest and most intelligent students based on cognitive ability within select number of universities Establishment of Cognitive Elite Colleges became more open than ever before in history More students and a higher proportion of people receiving college degrees Selection criteria for students emphasized high intelligence Academic institutions more focused on accepting best and brightest applicants Percentage of Elite High School Graduates Going to College Harvard Approximately 66% applicants admitted SATVerbal Score 583 on average 1952 Approximately 9% applicants admitted SATVerbal Score 740 on average 2007 Divisions Education used as a powerful divider Affects differences in income and occupation The divide is between excelling of high cognitive ability and failure of low cognitive ability College Population Increase Initial beginnings led back to end of World War I and continued until 1974 Only set backs were the effects of the Great Depression and World War II Surges attributed to G.I. Bill's influence and postwar prosperity 30% of 23 yearolds had received B.A. or B.S. degrees as of 1990 (an all time high) Importance of Cognition In 1920's high cognition ability did not guarantee that students went to college (60% likelihood) By 1960's almost 100% guarantee that high cognitive students would attend college Changes in the process that colleges used to sort their admitted students credited to revolution of 1950's Developing a Wide Range of Students Administration of the SAT (originally began in 1926) Otis Intelligence Test that was used alongside and comparable to the SAT Purpose: to discover which universities the elite students were attending SAT Distribution for High School Seniors in 1961 Result: The more prestigious the school, then the higher the test score and thus the higher the level of cognition Choosing a College Studies showed that cognitive elite were beginning to choose against local public schools, and venturing further out to more prominent private ones Two Primary Reasons: 1. 2. Popularity of television and improvement in longdistance travel Increased demand for a scarce good Statistical Changes College enrollment increased from 2.1 million in 1952 to 2.6 million in 1960 Social and cultural remains left from World War II factored into increase No longer did class, religion, or region decide college choices, BUT now cognitive ability Top 10 Elite Universities 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Harvard Yale Stanford University of Pennsylvania Princeton Brown University of California at Berkeley Cornell Dartmouth Columbia Top 10 Elite Universities These 10 schools account for approximately 31% of students who scored over 700 on the SATVerbal 10% of students scoring over 700 went to Harvard or Yale alone Conclusion: Cognitive elite are isolated from other students by attending the same schools Distributions and Standard Deviations A distribution is a pattern formed by multiple scores Standard deviations allow different results to be compared Bell curves are normal distribution centered around the mean Cultural Changes Only a 6 in 1,000 chance that half of ones twelve closest friends went to college Only a 1 in 1,000 chance that one went to one of top 10 most prestigious schools People who now obtain degrees have changed (social circles narrower based on IQ level) Only 1 in 300 18 yearolds have the ability to even get over a 700 on SAT Verbal Elitism Isolation Elite college population drastically different from population at large Most talented and gifted kids taken to "live in another world" Elite society has a great control over the rest of world, but hardly any experience in it Cognitive Partitioning by Occupation Different levels of IQ result in different jobs (IQ is a credential for certain jobs) IQ is more important as the job becomes intellectually tougher Certain professions now almost strictly classified to those with high IQ levels Difference: people spend a lot less time in school than in the work force Hereditary Factors Family members often hold similar occupations through generations So if intelligence is hereditary, and intelligence equals status, status is hereditary Studies have shown that common genes resembles similar job status High IQ Occupations 1. Accountants 2. Architects 3. Chemists 4. College Teachers 5. Dentists 6. Engineers 7. Lawyers 8. Physicians 9. Computer Scientists 10. Mathematicians 11. Natural Scientists 12. Social Scientists Cognition and Businessmen In 1900, college degrees not required to run corporations (2/3 without one) Past CEOs typically born into wealth and inherited business positions (rather than earned) By 1976, education became the prominent factor at the same time that education began relying on cognition and intelligence CEOs Education Summary Cognitive sorting has become highly efficient since the 1950's revolution Very high majority of intellectually gifted concentrated within most elite universities and most elite occupations Changes largely due to improvements in opportunities The Bell Curve & Economic Partitioning Central Point The higher a person' s IQ the more efficient their work, which in turn yields higher profit for their employer Fundamental argument - IQ = $ A few things to keep in mind Methods of measuring IQ are plentiful, not always impartial The conclusions drawn from this book are from averages of samples, not individuals Restricted Range Restricted range is the limitation of averages to a particular range For many occupations there is a restricted range of intelligence, which leads to a poor correlation between intelligence and performance in that particular setting Spearman' s g g is the general intelligence factor, and a general capacity for inferring and applying relationships drawn from experience Many IQ tests are g-loaded, meaning the measures are highly correlated with g According to Murray and Herrnstein, the best predictor of job performance across the occupational spectrum Correlation Coefficient Ranges from -1 to +1 It is rare in the social sciences to get a correlation higher than .5 The correlation between IQ and various jobrelated measures are generally in the .2 to .6 range How are the conclusions legitimate? Statisticians during 70s and 80s created a new method of statistical analysis known as metaanalysis Meta-analysis combines the results from different studies in order to produce broad and acceptable conclusions Landmark Case Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971) established precedent that any job requirement must have " manifest relationship to the employment in question" Rendered the use of mental testing for jobs illegal Support for Intelligence as a predictor for job performance A case study April 1939, New York City Police hired the top 300 scores of an intelligence test given to 30,000 men As a whole the men made very efficient police officers with fewer disciplinary problems and higher ranks, several achieved successful careers in other fields such as law and business after leaving the force Does experience make up for less intelligence? Do employees of A differing intelligence converge after some time on the job? study of over 23,000 civilian employees at 3 levels of mental ability, using supervisor ratings as the measure of performance, and it extended out to job lengths of 20 years and more found that convergence does not occur or the degree of convergence is very small Military IQ testing and Validity Validity = correlation coefficient Occupations in the military are representative of the occupations in the private sector Cognitive test scores as a predictor of Job Performance Cognitive test scores accurately predict job performance more than any other measure Important to note that ON AVERAGE an employee chosen based on test score would be more productive than those chosen based on any other predictor Validity determines strength of correlation Education vs. Income The large spread of points at 12 years is due to the number of high school graduates who fill a wide variety of occupations What is the cost of inefficiency? According to varied sources, figures for overall losses range from $13 billion minimum (Hardigan Committee) to $80 billion maximum (Hunter & Hunter) per year The Cost of Inefficiency (cont.) In a specific context, hiring a new worker for a $20,000-a-year job Hiring a new employee with one standard deviation above the mean (84th percentile) would yield $8,000 dollars per year Similarly, hiring a new employee with one S.D. below the mean (16th percentile) would yield a cost of $8,000 per year C hapte 4 r Steeper Ladders, Narrower Gates Cognitive Partitioning Cognitive partitioning is a continuous cycle throughout education and occupations Reasons: Economics Value of intelligence in the market place is drastically increasing Increasing physical partition of the cognitive elite from the rest of society Inherited genes Propensity to mate by IQ Cognitive Ability By late 20th century, educational systems begin to sort by cognitive ability Importantly related to job productivity Cognitive stratification: A central social process The Changing Market for Ability Increasing value of intelligence in the marketplace The economic gap separating the upper cognitive classes from the rest of society will increase The Role of Education During the last quarter, real wages rose more than twice as much for workers with college educations than those with 12 or less years of schooling BUT, experienced older men saw little real change in income whatever their level of education Wages for men with many years of experience reflect their work history as well as their immediate economic value In the 1980s, educated workers became increasingly more valuable when compared to less educated workers Reasons for Wide I ncome Gap Between the Educated vs. NonEducated Technology: Machines displace people from low-skill jobs Poor School Systems: Failing to teach people skills that they used to teach Blue collar jobs emigrating to countries where labor is cheaper Creates an oversupply of less educated workers in America Not protecting their economic interests Wage structure is sagging at the low end Emigration of Blue Collar Jobs: Weakening Labor Unions: Declining Real Minimum Wage The Mysterious Residual & the Bureau of Labor Statistics Bureau of the Census conduct national monthly surveys analyzing wages Understanding of the growing wage inequality requires an account of this residual variation Increasing wage inequality due to changes in the demand for residual characteristics of workers rather than to change changes in the demand for education or experience Job markets for people lacking the residual characteristics declined The Case for I Q as the Residual High-paying jobs are given to people with high intelligence Demand for IQ leads to an increase in wages in order to supply them in the job market intelligence climbed Wage inequality grew as the economic demand for Higher importance and value of reward for those who are intelligent, rather than highly educated Why Cognitive Ability Has Become More Valuable to Employers labor market Cognitive ability is becoming more valuable in the Technology: Increased economic value of intelligence Robots replace factory workers, etc. People pay huge fees for people to sell them their trained intelligence (i.e., business consultants) The End Result: Prosperity for Those Lucky Enough to be I ntelligent Smart people tend to have high incomes High IQs pave way for high IQ-occupations I ncome as a Family Trait " Mobility of Generations" Poorer children tend to do better than their parents Children of the rich are supposed to live off of the family fortune Cognitive Sorting Through Physical Separation Geography highly affects cognitive sorting in education and occupation People with similar cognitive skills tend to inhabit a similar workplace and neighborhood Cognitive Segregation in the Workplace Separation of the cognitive elite from everyone else Causes: Higher level of cognitive ability Greater degree of homogeneity among people involved in that line of work Physical placement in workplace Executives, data entry clerks, and janitors are all placed on separate floors Residential Segregation Neighborhoods: Produced with a high level of socioeconomic partitioning i.e., factory worker seldom lives next door to the executive Much smaller proportion of the population is raised in a socioeconomic mixed environment Rise of crime rates and deteriorating urban school systems forces the wealthy to relocate to rich suburbs People are drawn to higher institutions where they will be intellectually homogeneous Urbanization of the Nation: Effect due to Government: Educational Institutions: Genetic Partitioning Heritability vs. the relationship of intelligence to success in life Predicted that socioeconomic status would increasingly be inherited Because intelligence is a matter of genes and success in life is a matter of intelligence, success may be simply inherited How Much is I Q a Matter of Genes? IQ is substantially heritable Debate on whether variation in IQ is due to genetic variations or variations in environment Heritability of a trait may change when the conditions producing variation change As environments become more uniform, heritability rises Evidence asserts that the heritability of IQ rises as one ages The Syllogism in Practice Science findings suggest that the heritability of success is going to increase rather than diminish How to increases chances of success in life: Giving children equal access to cognitive developing things Moving a child from a bad environment Love, Marriage, and I Q In terms of IQ, opposites do NOT attract Of the many correlations involving husbands and wives, one of the highest is for IQ I f the Propensity to Mate by Cognitive Ability Has Remained the Same With cognitive ability combined with educational and occupational stratification, trends to marry people of similar intelligence will remain the same I f the Propensity to Mate by Cognitive Ability Has I ncreased People increasingly tend to mate by IQ Robert Mare' s studies: Odds of a college graduate marrying a non-college graduate declined from 44% to 35% Postwar, a substantial increase is assortative mating by IQ Causes: Feminist movement Coeducational institutions Age at leaving school Age at marriage The Limits of Churning Society becoming like a caste: Elite moves toward the upper income brackets Elites run most of the institutions of society Fewer than 60% in the top quartile of intelligence actually complete a bachelor' s degree People can still become members of the cognitive elite even without a college degree (i.e., Bill Gates) Roughly half of smart non-college graduates are taking their places among the smart college graduates Importance of higher education: I nterlocking Phenomena 1. The cognitive elite is getting richer, in an era when everybody else is having to struggle to stay even 2. The cognitive elite is increasingly segregated physically from everyone else, in both the workplace and the neighborhood 3. The cognitive elite is increasingly likely to intermarry Works Cited Herrnestein, Richard J. and Charles Murray " The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life" Chapter 4, pgs.91-115 Discussion Questions 1. 2. What factors and causes led to the rapid increase in the number of college attendees during the 1950's? What is societies response to the segregation of the cognitive elite? How do you personally feel about it? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Questions to consider What are some counterpoints to the idea that a person' s productivity can be judged by their IQ score? What blocks the use of intelligence testing for jobs in the US? What is Spearman' s g-factor for intelligence? If you were an employer, would you support the use of intelligence testing for new employees Questions 1. Why is there little difference in the wage change between highly educated young men and experienced older men? 2. What is the correlation between education, intelligence, and income? ...
View Full Document

This note was uploaded on 03/20/2008 for the course ASIA 460 taught by Professor Hewison during the Fall '08 term at UNC.

Ask a homework question - tutors are online