Scientists from the University of Granada have studied 54 individuals–half Spanish and half Moroccan–to determine how IQ tests work.
New research suggests that a universal test of intelligence quotient does not exist. Results in this type of test are determined to a strong degree by cultural differences.
Their objective was to study and explain cultural differences in IQ test performance. To do this, scientists from CIMCYC–the University of Granada’s Brain Mind and Behavior Research Center–conducted a study of 54 individuals aged between 18 and 54 years: 27 were Spanish and the other 27 were Moroccans residing in Spain.
The groups were selected to ensure that clear cultural differences existed between them: they spoke different languages (Spanish versus Arabic), professed different religions (Christians versus Muslims), had different traditions, and came from very different geographical contexts (Europe versus Africa).
Both groups underwent different tests of intellectual capacity: for example, a test of non-verbal intelligence, and various neuropsychological tests that measure functions such as visual memory and executive functions.
The same test measures different cognitive functions
Although the two groups were similar in terms of sex, educational level and socio-economic status, the results showed that in the test of non-verbal intelligence, the Spanish group obtained a higher IQ score than the Moroccan group. Moreover, the neuropsychological skills used in each subtest were clearly dependent on the country of origin of each participant. In other words, the same test can measure different cognitive functions in individuals from different cultures.
In the light of the results of this study, the authors suggest that the non-verbal tests cannot be considered culture-free and confirm the importance of validating the tests in their cultural context.