Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Slater I 120
Intelligence tests/Jensen: In the mid-1960s, Jensen’s lab was conducting experiments with paired-associate and serial learning in children from various racial and SES backgrounds. In these tasks, participants are presented with randomly grouped stimuli, often words, and asked later to recall both the stimuli and the ways in which they were grouped. Jensen was comparing performance on these tasks in children with different IQs. Jensen was acutely aware that most intelligence tests include items intended to assess how much the individual had learned in the predominant cultural environment, thus potentially putting minority and low-SES (socioeconomic status) backgrounds at substantial disadvantage (Jensen, 1966(1), 1967(2), 1968a(3), 1969(4)).
Solution/Jensen: basic, novel, laboratory learning tasks might be more direct and “culture-free” indexes of intelligence. Jensen and his staff noted that African-American, Mexican-American, and low-SES European-American children with low IQs in the 70–90 range tended to perform much better on these learning tasks than did middle- and upper-SES European-American children with similar IQs. In fact, the minority and low-IQ children performed very similarly on these tasks compared to middle- and upper-SES European-American children with normal and even above-normal IQs (Jensen, 1968b(5)).
„Culture-free“ IQ test: Raven’s Progressive Matrices: Raven’s is a well-known nonverbal reasoning test that was then generally assumed, and still is by many, to be “culture-free” because of its nonverbal character and the absence of any performance reliance on knowledge of specific information.
Problem: it was exactly this test that produced the greatest difference in correlations.
Jensen: this suggested, that the source of the performance contrast was not cultural bias in the tests but some difference inherent between the children in the two kinds of groups. >Heritability/Jensen, >Intelligence/Jensen, >Racism/Jensen, >Science/Jensen, >Genetic variation/Jensen.
Slater I 122
JohnsonVsJensen: Jensen did not present the evidence contradicting his case, nor did he present alternative interpretations of the evidence he presented.
Slater I 128
Perhaps the greatest irony surrounding Jensen’s (1969)(1) article is that he was very creatively doing just that when he was sidetracked into arguing that socially dis-advantaged children were inherently less educable.



1. Jensen, A. R. (1966). Verbal mediation and educational potential. Psychology in the Schools, 3, 99–109.
2. Jensen, A. R. (1967). The culturally disadvantaged: Psychological and educational aspects. Educational Research, 10, 4–20.
3. Jensen, A. R. (1968a). Social class, race, and genetic – Implications for education. American Educational Research Journal, 5, 1–42.
4. Jensen, A. R. (1969). How much can we boost IQ and scholastic achievement? Harvard Educational Review, 3, 1–123.
5. Jensen, A. R. (1968b). Patterns of mental ability and socioeconomic status. Proceedings of the National Academy of the United States of America, 60, 1330–1337.


Wendy Johnson: „How Much Can We Boost IQ? Updated Look at Jensen’s (1969) Question and Answer“, in: Alan M. Slater & Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Jensen, Arthur R.
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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