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  • Level: GCSE
  • Subject: Maths
  • Word count: 4515

Is race and intelligence a justifiable area of research in psychology?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

IS RACE AND INTELLIGENCE A JUSTIFIABLE AREA OF RESEARCH IN PSYCHOLOGY?

IS RACE AND INTELLIGENCE

A JUSTIFIABLE AREA

OF RESEARCH IN PSYCHOLOGY?

Ann-Marie Roy

Contact: aroy11@caledonian.ac.uk

Is race and intelligence a justifiable area of research in psychology?  This has been a fiercely debated topic in psychology.  On one side are those who believe that IQ is genetically determined and unchangeable. Those individuals that support this belief also consider some races of humankind (usually ‘ blacks’ ) to be genetically inferior to others. They point to the national differences in intelligence score tests as part of the support for this belief.  Conversely some believe intelligence is not hereditary or preset.  In addition many psychologists believe race, as a category variable, is meaningless as it is defined by socio-economics (Zuckerman, 1990).  Several believe intelligence tests are culturally biased in favour of whites (Flynn, 1987) and therefore should not be used to define or measure race or ethnic group intelligence.

This essay will attempt to provide the reader with an outline of the issues important in the race/IQ debate.  It is acknowledged that there are key contributors in this area, including Galton (1884), Goddard (1912), Jensen (1969), Eysenck (1973), and Gould (1978) to name a few. The author will not necessarily use them to illustrate key points although it must be noted that their contributions underpin race intelligence theories and research past and present.  What this essay will do is examine the claim of heritability of intelligence, the fallacy of using race classifications and the race/intelligence stance in psychology today. The reader will be encouraged to accept that race and intelligence is an unjustifiable research topic in psychology.

Psychology is the culmination of a mixture of philosophers’ and scientists’ efforts to understand the minds and behaviours of various organisms (Reber and Reber, 2001).

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Middle

never on the grounds of their physical differences only their traits.  Rushton however classed races on strictly physical differences. He placed people into three groupings, Caucasian, Negroid or Mongoloid. In his analysis of 25 countries on Barratt and Eysenck’s EPQ (1984) he grouped Nigeria and Uganda as Negroid even though their scale pattern on the EPQ was grossly dissimilar. Rushton even grouped Pygmies with Watusi but failed to provide a rational for doing so (see Yee, Fairchild, Weizmann & Wyatt, 1993).

Since the 1930s the concept of race as a category has been discarded. The Psychological Abstracts of 1990, 1991(see Yee at al, 1993) reveals psychologists still group race and ethnicity together even though one stems from nature and the other nurture.   In putting them together psychology has obscured their real meanings (Yee et al, 1993). Psychology has allowed societies political, cultural and social norms to seriously affected its scientific position.  So how then do other disciplines define races?

Biologists identify race as an inbreeding group that is geographically secluded and that has obvious physical differences. However, this definition could fit the inbreeding Amish in America who maintain isolation through culture and religion (Zuckerman, 1988).   Anthropologists consider race as a recent variation caused by changes in climate and concentrated gene pool maintained through geographic segregation. On the other hand racial groupings have traditionally been made through categorising physical features.  Skin colour, eye colour and shape, nose shapes and head shape and size were (and still are for some) all common classification criterion.   Nevertheless these groupings would not be in agreement with the anthropological definition.  Skin colour varies with some Caucasians having darker skins than some Negroes (Barnicott, 1964).  Blood groups, A, B & O are found across the traditional race categories.

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Conclusion

Reed, T. E., & Jensen, A. R. (1992).  Conduction velocity in a brain nerve pathway of normal adults correlates with intelligence level.  Intelligence, 16, 59-272.  Cited in Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T. J., Boykin, A.W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. J., Hallpern, D. F., Loehlin, J. C., Perloff, R., Sternberg, R. J., & Urbina, S. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. American Psychologist, 51, No 2, 77 - 101.

Richards, G.  (1997).  ‘Race’, Racism and Psychology: Towards a reflective history.  London and New York: Routledge.

Rushton, J. P. (1987).  Oysters, Rabbits and People: A Critique of race Differences in Behaviour.  Personality and Individual Differences, 9, No 6, 1025 - 1033.

Scarr, S. (1988).  Race and Gender as Psychological Variables.  American Psychologist, 43, 56 – 59.  Cited in Yee, A. H., Fairchild, H. H., Weizmann, F., & Wyatt, G. E. (1993).  Addressing Psychology’s Problem With Race.  American Psychologist, 48, No. 11, 1132 - 1140.

Scarr, S., Pakstis, A. J., Katz, S. H., & Barker, W. B. (1977).  “Absence of a relationship between degree of white ancestry and intellectual skills within a black population.”  Human Genetics, 39, 69 - 86.  

Spearman, C. (1927).  The abilities of man.  New York: Macmillan.  Cited in Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T. J., Boykin, A. W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. J., Hallpern, D. F., Loehlin, J. C., Perloff, R., Sternberg, R. J., & Urbina, S. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. American Psychologist, 51, No 2, 77 - 101.

Thomson, G. H. (1939).  The factorial analysis of human ability.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin.  Cited in Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, T. J., Boykin, A. W., Brody, N., Ceci, S. J., Hallpern, D. F., Loehlin, J. C., Perloff, R., Sternberg, R. J., & Urbina, S. (1996). Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. American Psychologist, 51, No 2, 77 - 101.

Yee, A. H., Fairchild, H. H., Weizmann, F., & Wyatt, G. E. (1993).  Addressing Psychology’s Problem With Race.  American Psychologist, 48, No. 11, 1132 - 1140.

Zuckerman, M. (1988).  Oysters, Rabbits and People: A Critique of “ Race Differences in Behaviour” By J.P. Rushton.  Personality and Individual Differences, 9, No 6, 1025 – 1033.

Zuckerman. M. (1990).  Some Dubious Premises in Research and Theory on Racial Differences: Scientific, Social, and Ethical Issues.  American Psychologist,45, No 12, 1297 - 1303.

ANN-MARIE ROY                          

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