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April 19, 1912 - William Stern develops the IQ

The "witty" have a lean neck, a narrow face with brilliant eyes, and spotless, fine reddish-white skin. This is what Aristotle wrote in the 4th century BC. One recognizes the strength of spirit of a person by his facial features, it says in his "Physiognomik", and the "stupid" by big jaws, a meaty forehead and an expressionless face. Although the mind distinguishes man so much from all other creatures, it has for a long time eluded all measurement.

How are flies and butterflies similar?

Chinese who lived around 1100 BC BC want to work for their emperor, have to prove themselves in a talent competition in horse riding, archery, making music, writing and arithmetic. The physicians of the 19th century believe that they can grasp the mind using scientific methods: the larger the brain, the greater the mind and character. The German doctor Franz Joseph Gall measures 300 skulls to the millimeter and justifies phrenology, the cranial theory. On average, the brains he examined weigh 1,400 grams, his own, measured after death, weighs 1,198 grams. The French psychologist Alfred Binet was the first to test children's thinking skills in 1905 using a catalog of questions. Depending on their age, he asks children questions in his study at Paris University, for example: What rhymes with horse? Make a sentence with Paris, the river and luck. How are flies and butterflies similar? The last question will be deleted again in the course of the test development. Binet realizes that they can only answer children of rich families. You go to the country on vacation and see butterflies; They don't know working-class children from the city.

IQ between 85 and 115 is average

The German psychologist William Stern knows and supports Binet's tests, but proposes a new calculation on April 19, 1912. Binet had developed twelve sets of questions for children between the ages of three and 15, which represent a certain mental maturity. For example, if a child is seven years old but can already answer the eight-year-old questions, they have an intelligence age of eight. Stern finds this evaluation too schematic and distorting. He divides the intelligence age by the number of real years of life and uses the formula to invent the intelligence quotient, the IQ.Researchers who build on his teaching later multiply the quotient by 100 to get whole numbers. An example calculation: A five-year-old child solves the questions for six-year-olds. The intelligence age 6 divided by the age 5, times 100 - the child has an IQ of 120, so it is above average intelligent. However, if a ten-year-old can solve the problems of the eleven-year-old, he only has an IQ of 110. According to Stern's formula, the IQ drops steadily because the intelligence age increases more slowly than the age. Those whose intellectual age corresponds exactly to their age has an IQ of 100. If someone has an IQ of less than 70, they are considered mentally handicapped, with an IQ of 130 or more they are highly gifted. Most people, just under 70 percent, have an IQ between 85 and 115.

Americans determine the IQ of immigrants and soldiers

Psychologists, especially in the United States, now believe that a single number can be used to compare people's intellectual strength, regardless of age. The IQ of all immigrants is determined, and in 1917, before the start of World War I, the IQ of 1,726,966 soldiers. William Stern is always skeptical about the wave of euphoria surrounding his development. He sees the IQ only as an approximation of what defines a person. "Intelligence is the general ability of an individual to consciously adjust his thinking to new demands; it is the general mental adaptability to new tasks and conditions in life," he wrote in 1912. It is not known whether he has ever determined his IQ. For him, the IQ is just a number and, as with every calculation, he considers mistakes to be possible: "There are no mathematically reliable prognoses in human life at all."

Status: April 19, 2012

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On WDR 2 you can always hear the due date around 9:40 a.m. Repetition: from Monday to Friday at around 5:40 p.m. and on Saturday at 6:40 p.m. The deadline is available as a podcast after it has been broadcast.

"ZeitZeichen" on WDR 5 (9:05 am) and WDR 3 (5:45 pm) also commemorates William Stern on April 19, 2012. The "ZeitZeichen" is also available as a podcast.