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Stanford Binet Intelligence Scale

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The development of the Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scales initiated the modern field of intelligence testing and was one of the first examples of an adaptive test. The test originated in France, then was revised in the United States. The Stanford–Binet test started with the French psychologist Alfred Binet, whom the French government commissioned with developing a method of identifying intellectually challenged children for their placement in special education programs. As Binet indicated, case studies might be more detailed and helpful, but the time required to test many people would be excessive. In 1916, at Stanford University, the psychologist Lewis Terman released a revised examination which became known as the "Stanford–Binet test".

Development Edit

Alfred Binet and physician Theodore Simon collaborated in studying mental retardation in French school children. Theodore Simon was a student of Binet.[1] Between 1905 and 1908, their research at a boys' school, in Grange-aux-Belles, led to their developing the Binet–Simon tests; assessing attention, memory, and verbal skill. The test consisted of 30 items ranging from the ability to touch one's nose or ear, when asked, to the ability to draw designs from memory and to define abstract concepts,[1] and varying in difficulty. Binet proposed that a child's intellectual ability increases with age.

In June 1905, their test was published as the Binet-Simon Intelligence Test in L'Année Psychologique. In this essay, they described three methods that should be employed to study "inferior states of intelligence." These methods include the medical method (anatomical, physiological, and pathological signs of inferior intelligence), the pedagogical method (judging intelligence based on a sum of acquired knowledge), and the psychological method (making direct observations and measurements of intelligence). They claimed that the psychological method is the most direct method because it measures intelligence as it is in the present moment by assessing his/her capacity to judge, comprehend, reason, and invent.[2] Both Binet and Simon's test was considerably accurate at determining a child's grades at school and they found that intelligence influences how well a child performs at school.[3]

The original tests in the 1905 form include:

  1. "Le Regard"
  2. Prehension Provoked by a Tactile Stimulus
  3. Prehension Provoked by a Visual Perception
  4. Recognition of Food
  5. Quest of Food Complicated by a Slight Mechanical Difficulty
  6. Execution of Simple Commands and Imitation of Simple Gestures
  7. Verbal Knowledge of Objects
  8. Verbal Knowledge of Pictures
  9. Naming of Designated Objects
  10. Immediate Comparison of Two Lines of Unequal Lengths
  11. Repetition of Three Figures
  12. Comparison of Two Weights
  13. Suggestibility
  14. Verbal Definition of Known Objects
  15. Repetition of Sentences of Fifteen Words
  16. Comparison of Known Objects from Memory
  17. Exercise of Memory on Pictures
  18. Drawing a Design from Memory
  19. Immediate Repetition of Figures
  20. Resemblances of Several Known Objects Given from Memory
  21. Comparison of Lengths
  22. Five Weights to be Placed in Order
  23. Gap in Weights
  24. Exercise upon Rhymes
  25. Verbal Gaps to be Filled
  26. Synthesis of Three Words in One Sentence
  27. Reply to an Abstract Question
  28. Reversal of the Hands of a Clock
  29. Paper Cutting
  30. Definitions of Abstract Terms

New forms of the test were published in 1908 and again in 1911, after extensive research using "normal" examinees in addition to examinees that were considered to have Mental retardation. In 1912, William Stern created the concept of mental age (MA): an individual's level of mental development relative to others.[1] Binet placed a confidence interval around the scores returned from his tests, both because he thought intelligence was somewhat plastic, and because of inherent margin of error in psychometric tests.[4]

In 1916, the Stanford University psychologist Lewis Terman released the "Stanford Revision of the Binet–Simon Scale", the "Stanford–Binet", for short. He wrote The Measurement of Intelligence: An Explanation of and a Complete Guide for the Use of the Stanford Revision and Extension of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale, which provided English translations for the French items as well as new items. Despite other available translations, Terman is noted for his normative studies and methodological approach. With one of his graduate students at Stanford University, Maud Merrill, Terman created two parallel forms of the Stanford-Binet: Form L (for Lewis) and Form M (for Maud). Then, in the 1950s, Merrill revised the Stanford-Binet and created a new version that included what he considered to be the best test items from Forms L and M. This version was published in 1960 and renormed in 1973.

Soon, the test was so popular that Robert Yerkes, the president of the American Psychological Association, decided to use it in developing the Army Alpha and the Army Beta tests to classify recruits.[citation needed] Thus, a high-scoring recruit might earn an A-grade (high officer material), whereas a low-scoring recruit with an E-grade would be rejected for military service.[4]

The fourth edition of the test, which was published in 1986, converted from Binet's age-scale format to a point-scale format. The age-scale format, which was originally designed to provide a translation of the child's performance to mental age, was arguably inappropriate for more current generations of test-takers. The point scale arranged the tests into subtests, where all items of a type were administered together. The Fifth Edition includes the age-scale format to provide a variety of items at each level and to keep examinees interested.

In 1960, the present day Stanford-Binet Scale replaced the ratio IQ with the deviation IQ. The deviation IQ compares and contrasts a child's score with numerous other scores obtained by other children of the same comparable age. This deviation IQ was developed by David Wechsler.[5]

To test the validity of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence, three methods were used:

  1. Professional judgement by researchers and examiners of all test items
  2. Professional judgement by experts in CHC theory
  3. Empirical Item analyses[6]

Construct validity was obtained from the analyses of age trends for each of the five factor scores, which included both growth and decline, intercorrelations of tests, factors, IQs, and evidence for general ability.[7]

Timeline Edit

  • April 1905: Development of Binet-Simon Test announced at a conference in Rome
  • June 1905: Binet-Simon Intelligence Test introduced
  • 1908 and 1911: New Versions of Binet-Simon Intelligence Test
  • 1916: Stanford-Binet First Edition by Terman
  • 1937: Second Edition by Terman and Merrill
  • 1973: Third Edition by Merrill
  • 1986: Fourth Edition by Thorndike, Hagen, and Sattler
  • 2003: Fifth Edition by Roid

Present use Edit

Since the inception of the Stanford-Binet, it has been revised several times. Currently, the test is in its fifth edition, which is called the Stanford-Binet 5. According to the publisher's website, "The SB5 was normed on a stratified random sample of 4,800 individuals that matches the 2000 U.S. Census. Bias reviews were conducted on all items for gender, ethnic, cultural/religious, regional, and socioeconomic status issues. Validity data was obtained using such instruments as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Fourth Edition, the Stanford-Binet Form L-M, the Woodcock-Johnson III, the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test, the Bender-Gestalt, the WAIS-III, the WIAT-II, the WISC-III, and the WPPSI-R."[How to reference and link to summary or text]

The revised edition of the Stanford-Binet over time has devised substantial changes in the way the tests are presented. The test has improved when looking at the introduction of a more parallel form and more demonstrative standards. For one, a non-verbal IQ component is included in the present day tests whereas in the past, there was only a verbal component. In fact, it now has equal balance of verbal and non-verbal content in the tests. It is also more animated than the other tests, providing the test-takers with more colourful artwork, toys and manipulatives. This allows the test to have a higher range in the age of the test takers.[8] This test is very useful in assessing the intellectual capabilities of people ranging from young children all the way to young adults. However, the test has come under criticism for not being able to compare people of different age categories, since each category gets a different set of tests. furthermore, very young children tend to do poorly on the test due to the fact that they are lacking in the concentration needed to finish the test.[9]

Low variation on individuals tested more than once indicates the test has high reliability, although its validity is debated (see below). The five factors assessed in the test are: Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Each is assessed in two separate domains, verbal and nonverbal, in order to accurately assess individuals with deafness, limited English, or communication disorders. Examples of test items include verbal analogies to test Verbal Fluid Reasoning and picture absurdities to test Nonverbal Knowledge. The test makers state that the Stanford-Binet 5 accurately assesses low-functioning, normal intelligence, and high-functioning individuals (Riverside Publishing, 2004).

Students with exceptional scores on this test may be deemed bright, moderately gifted, highly gifted, extremely gifted, or profoundly gifted (contrast these with obsolete terms for low scores). These terms equate with progressively further standard deviations of IQ scores from the mean (100), bright being 1 standard deviation), moderately gifted 2 standard deviations, etc. Mensa currently requires a score of 132 on the Stanford-Binet. Since the test has a standard deviation of 16, this corresponds to 2 standard deviations above the mean in a normally distributed population. The Triple Nine Society currently requires a score of 146 on the SB-5 version, and 149 on all others.

Current uses for the test include clinical and neuropsychological assessment, educational placement, compensation evaluations, career assessment, adult neuropsychological treatment, forensics, and research on aptitude.[10] Various high-IQ societies also accept this test for admission into their ranks; for example, the Triple Nine Society accepts a minimum qualifying score of 151 for Form L or M, 149 for Form LM if taken in 1986 or earlier, 149 for SB-IV, and 146 for SB-V; in all cases the applicant must have been at least 16 years old at the date of the test.[11]


Despite the recent revision (Stanford-Binet 5), some controversy remains as to the accuracy and bias of this test;[How to reference and link to summary or text] however, many psychologists believe the evidence available shows that the Stanford-Binet test is valid, and it remains a popular assessment of intelligence.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

As Brown & French point out, "IQ tests serve one function exceptionally well, they predict academic success or failure ... they are composed of items that are representative of the kinds of problems that traditionally dominate school curricula," (1979: 255) and thus only predict that category of school assimilation. Further, "children with the same current status on an IQ test item may vary quite widely in terms of their cognitive potential." (ibid.: 258)

The validity of standardized tests such as Stanford-Binet for testing general intelligence has been disputed by a number of commentators. Stephen Jay Gould, although not an intelligence researcher, points out in his book, The Mismeasure of Man, that Binet originally devised his test for detecting problem areas, rather than as a means of ranking the general intelligence of students. Over time, the purposes of intelligence testing have changed, however, and the Stanford-Binet 5, the 5th revision of Binet's test, now bears little resemblance to his original work. Achievement tests, rather than intelligence tests, are now typically used to assess performance in particular areas.

See alsoEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Santrock, John W. (2008) "A Topical Approach to Life-Span Development", (4th Ed.) Concept of Intelligence (283–284), New York: McGraw–Hill.
  2. Binet, Alfred. (1905) L'Annee Psychologique, 12,191-244.
  3. Gilbert, D.T., Schacter, D.L., & Wegner, D.M. (2011). Psychology. New York, NY:Worth Publishers.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fancher, Raymond E. (1985) "The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy", New York (NY): W. W. Norton.
  5. Carlson, N. R. (2010). Psychology, the science of behaviour. (4 ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. p.336
  6. (2004). Test Review: Roid, G. H. (2003). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition (SB:V). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing. Canadian Journal of School Psychology 19 (1–2): 235–244.
  7. (2004). Test Review: Roid, G. H. (2003). Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition (SB:V). Itasca, IL: Riverside Publishing. Canadian Journal of School Psychology 19 (1–2): 235–244.
  8. "Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition Assessment Service Bulletin Number 1"
  10. Riverside Publishing. Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, SB5, Fifth Edition. Accessed on December 2, 2011.
  • Brown, A. L. and L. A. French (1979). "The zone of potential development: implications for intelligence testing in the year 2000." Intelligence 3(3): 255-271.
  • Fancher, R. (1985). The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy. New York:W.W. Norton & Company
  • Gould, Stephen Jay. (1981) The Mismeasure of Man. New York and London: W. W. Norton & Co.

Further reading Edit

  • (2003). History of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence scales: Content and psychometrics.. Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition Assessment Service Bulletin No. 1.
  • (1916) The development of intelligence in children: The Binet–Simon Scale, E. S. Kite (Trans.), Baltimore: Williams & Wilkins. URL accessed 18 July 2010.
  • (1979). The Zone of Potential Development: Implications for Intelligence Testing in the Year 2000. Intelligence 3 (3): 255–273.
  • Fancher, Raymond E. (1985). The Intelligence Men: Makers of the IQ Controversy, New York (NY): W. W. Norton.
  • Freides, D. (1972). "Review of Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale, Third Revision" Oscar Buros Seventh Mental Measurements Yearbook, 772–773, Highland Park (NJ): Gryphon Press.
  • Gould, Stephen Jay (1981). The Mismeasure of Man, New York (NY): W. W. Norton.
  • McNemar, Quinn (1942). The revision of the Stanford–Binet Scale, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • Pinneau, Samuel R. (1961). Changes in Intelligence Quotient Infancy to Maturity: New Insights from the Berkeley Growth Study with Implications for the Stanford–Binet Scales and Applications to Professional Practice, Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
  • (1937) Measuring intelligence: A guide to the administration of the new revised Stanford–Binet tests of intelligence, Boston (MA): Houghton Mifflin.
  • (1960) Stanford–Binet Intelligence Scale: Manual for the Third Revision Form L–M with Revised IQ Tables by Samuel R. Pinneau, Boston (MA): Houghton Mifflin.
  • Richardson, Nancy (1992). Stanford–Binet IV, of Course!: Time Marches On! (originally published as Which Stanford–Binet for the Brightest?). Roeper Review 15 (1): 32–34.
  • Waddell, Deborah D. (1980). The Stanford–Binet: An Evaluation of the Technical Data Available since the 1972 Restandardization. Journal of School Psychology 18 (3): 203–209.

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