10 alternative methods of measuring intelligence

What exactly is intelligence? 

The topic is still an ongoing debate for psychologists and scientific researchers around the world, but various methods for measuring intelligence have been developed. 

The most well-known ways to measure intelligence are via various types of Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests. 

But there are a number of other ways to test how smart somebody is in unique and insightful ways. 

Here are the top alternative and reputable ways to measure intelligence. 

1) Critical thinking tests

Critical thinking is the ability to assess and question assumptions, beliefs and values in yourself and others. 

It is also the ability to evaluate evidence without allowing personal bias or perspective to cloud judgment or lead to irrational conclusions. 

Various tests exist that measure critical thinking ability, including the popular Watson-Glaser critical thinking test (WGCTA), and the Cornell critical thinking test. 

The WGCTA is often used by employers as a form of aptitude test to see if potential workers will be well-suited to a position and is half an hour in duration with 40 questions. 

The Cornell critical thinking test was first given in 1985 and is mainly used in the academic environment in order to test student readiness for higher education and potential future job prospects.

2) Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) 

Next up we come to the Situational Judgment Test (SJT)

There are various versions of the SJT test, which is a very unique way to measure intelligence. 

This is a form of psychometric testing that is sometimes used for screening people for jobs and in other situations. 

SJTs present you with a number of scenarios that might occur, and asks what you would do in them. 

It is often given by ranked responses in terms of courses of action you are most likely to to pursue down to those you are least likely to pursue. 

SJTs are especially good at testing your ability to communicate, work with others, demonstrate emotional intelligence, motivate colleagues and think long-term and strategically. 

3) Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test 

Raven’s Progressive Matrices test is a fascinating way to measure intelligence that measures a person’s ability for abstract reasoning. 

This test uses visual patterns and puzzles to assess your intelligence and ability to think abstractly and in geometric and pure terms. 

Patterns are displayed to participants in sequences including with slight differences and progressions, asking the participant what has been altered and how the puzzles can be set back to their original or functional form. 

There’s no doubt that this is a unique and challenging way to measure visual and geometric intelligence and the reason to think abstractly. 

4) The Verbal Comprehension Index 

The Verbal Comprehension Index (VCI) is a portion of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale that specifically measures the ability to understand and employ words.

It’s generally given to children and is a useful way to measure a child’s ability and challenges with the spoken and written word.

As South County Child and Family Consultants note:

“At its core, the verbal comprehension index measures a child’s ability to access his vocabulary, express himself in a meaningful manner, and apply reasoning skills to information presented verbally.”

5) The Perceptual Reasoning Index

Next we come to the PRI, or Perceptual Reasoning Index

Perceptual reasoning means somebody’s capacity for arranging, understanding and using their observations in a meaningful and effective way. 

In other words: what do you see and what does it mean? 

Perceptual reasoning analyzes someone’s ability to use and rework visual information in such a way that they can respond to it in a timely and results-driven way. 

This test requires you to picture scenarios and patterns in your head and is also contained on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.

6) The Working Memory Index 

There’s no doubt that memory and intelligence are connected, and the Working Memory Index test aims to measure that. 

This test assesses somebody’s ability for keeping images and words in their mind and remembering what they have seen or read as well as understanding it. 

The Working Memory Index test is used for both adults and children. 

In children it is also sometimes used to check for symptoms of attention-deficit disorder. 

7) Mechanical aptitude tests 

methods of measuring intelligence 1 10 alternative methods of measuring intelligence

Mechanical aptitude tests measure somebody’s ability to check how a person can learn and apply mechanical knowledge. 

This generally relates to diagnosing and fixing problems occuring in machines such as engines, mechanized structures and mechanical devices or tools of various kinds. 

Mechanical tests are given for many positions including engineering jobs and in various positions in the military, trucking and other careers. 

They are usually administered by positing hypothetical problems along with images and asking candidates how to solve them. 

The most widely used mechanical aptitude test is the SHL Verify Mechanical Comprehension Test, along with the Bennett Test of Mechanical Comprehension (BMCT). 

8) Aptitude tests 

In addition to mechanical ability tests, there are a number of other aptitude tests which are used to measure intelligence and potential capability in different professions and scenarios. 

These include aptitude tests such as: 

  • The MLAT (Modern Language Aptitude Test), measuring a person’s potential for learning a new language;
  • The DAT (Differential Aptitude Test) measuring a person’s ability to understand language and spatial relationships;
  • As well as aptitude tests focused on logical reasoning, diagrammatic understanding, verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning and numerical reasoning. 

9) The Peabody Individual Achievement Test

Next up we come to the Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT), a standardized achievement test first given in 1998. 

This test measures reading ability, spelling, math and general informational comprehension. 

It is given orally by speaking and takes an hour-and-a-half to be administered to students. 

10) Optical illusion intelligence test

Optical illusions are another form of testing intelligence and seeing someone’s ability to perceive, interpret, remember and analyze visual information. 

There are a number of online examples of optical illusion tests.

Optical illusion tests help determine somebody’s eye for detail as well as determining their ability to rearrange and mentally picture shapes and objects in meaningful ways. 

Judging the intelligence of somebody you know 

Judging the intelligence of somebody you know is inevitable. 

Even judging the approximate intelligence of a stranger you interact with briefly at a shop or bus stop is fairly common. 

We are designed by evolution and cultural conditioning to look for signs of intelligence or dullness in those we cross paths with because it could greaten our chances of survival or lead to risks or liabilities against us. 

If you’re driving with an Uber driver who clearly takes his job seriously and knows the streets of the city well you assess him on the surface level as fairly smart. 

If you’re with another Uber driver who keeps rubbing his red eyes and glancing at his cellphone while saying “uhh hmmm” when you point out he’s going the wrong way you make a surface judgment he must not be that smart or is perhaps hungover. 

As Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes:

“We make informal inferences about others’ intelligence all the time, even after short interactions. 

“It only takes a few minutes after meeting someone for most of us to judge how smart, competent, or quick-witted we think they are.

“After that point, we’re generally reluctant to change our initial views even after seeing solid contrary evidence.” 

This is due to the primacy effect, which is where we tend to remember and trust first impressions more strongly than follow up information, even contradictory followup information. 

The truth is that it’s inevitable we judge how smart or stupid people are depending on the context we’re relating to or depending on them.

But we should never forget that all the different ways of measuring intelligence above show just how subjective our analysis can be.

Measuring somebody’s intelligence 

There’s no doubt that some people are smarter than others. 

But it depends in what way or ways. 

Indeed, so much depends upon how you define that and within what context, as well as toward what purpose. 

Why do you want to know how smart you are or how smart somebody else is? 

What will that intelligence be used for or directed towards?

The above alternative ways of measuring intelligence are a fascinating look at understanding human intelligence and also the limits of understanding it. 

As the original developer of IQ psychologist William Stern said:

“Under all conditions, human beings are and will remain the centers of their own psychological life and of their own worth. In other words, they remain persons, even when studied and treated from an external perspective with respect to the goals of others… 

“My feeling is that psychotechnicians degrade people by using them as a means to the ends of others.”

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on www.twitter.com/paulrbrian and visit his website at www.paulrbrian.com

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