Stanford-Binet IQ test

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".


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.

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.[6]


  • 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

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 Intelligence Scales, Fifth Edition, or SB5. 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." By administering the Stanford–Binet test to large numbers of individuals selected at random from different parts of the United States, it has been found that the scores approximate a normal distribution. 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.[7] 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.[8]

Current uses for the test include clinical and neuropsychological assessment, educational placement, compensation evaluations, career assessment, adult neuropsychological treatment, forensics, and research on aptitude.[9] 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.[10]

See also

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Further reading


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