In an era when standardized tests are highly regarded, one cognitive psychologist points out that they don’t measure rational thinking. Keith Stanovich is that psychologist and he gets the award for his 2009 book What Intelligence Tests Miss: The Psychology of Rational Thought. In it, the University of Toronto professor of human development and applied psychology finds answers to the question of why some people with high IQs don’t seem so sharp. His research shows standardized tests measure intelligence but not rational thinking.
Stanovich says his scientific research showed strong results early on.
“One of the things that jumped out at me when I started doing that research and became clearer, was that it was surprising how poorly standard intelligence tests actually predict performance on what a cognitive psychologist would call a test of rational thinking,” he says.
According to Stanovich, many people have the wrong ideas about standardized tests.
“When a lay person thinks of an IQ they’re prone to think that that an IQ test measures colloquially good thinking,” he says. “But most of us would tend to agree that good thinking encompasses good judgment and decision making, i.e. rational thought, the type of thinking that helps us achieve our goals.”
Stanovich says he hopes his findings leads other researchers to explore ways that could change our culture’s dependency on standardized tests.
“It could well cache out into more explicit attempts to develop measures,” he says. “And in our research we’re trying to contribute to that in the form of presenting a framework that will induce other researchers to take up this endeavor.”
Stanovich says his doesn’t completely dismiss standardized tests, but warns they have limits.
Each year, the Grawemeyer Foundation at U of L gives awards for education, outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and religion.