[IPAC-List] Micro-survey on alternative terms for "cognitive ability"

mhammer at 295.ca mhammer at 295.ca
Tue Jun 23 13:37:20 EDT 2020

I think the qualification that "softens" the statement in quotes is not so
much a replacement for the term "cognitive ability", but rather a
qualification of the tests themselves.

Most people will have no quarrel with the idea of intelligence, cognitive
ability, or any of a host of terms for human "thinkyness".  We use such
terms to describe people in daily life, often in derogatory ways, and
sometimes in complimentary ways.  It's a lay universal.  At issue is the
conceptual validity and accuracy of the measurement tool, rather than what
it purports to measure.  If I say "tests of", there is a subtext or
connotation of certainty, and I think that's what someone might object to.

In which case, does the qualifier "psychometric tests" or "standardized
tests" soften things appropriately and acceptably, since it suggests that
cognitive ability, reasoning, intelligence, or whatever the heck sits
under the skull is being measured from a given perspective?  Once we say a
*kind* of test, that removes some of the unspoken inference that the test
is the absolute indisputable measure.

Sometimes it's the adjective, not the noun.  Is that response alternative
#5, Joel?

Regards to all,
Mark Hammer

> Colleagues,
> This email is a micro-survey on several alternative terms for "cognitive
> ability" as in the phrase, "blacks score 1 s.d. below whites on tests of
> cognitive ability, on average."
> Which of these alternative terms resonates best with you, as
> psychometricians, for what what is tested by the typical employment test
> of GMA (general mental ability):
> 1. Speed of learning
> 2. General academic ability
> 3. Academic achievement
> 4. None of the above
> (Reasons for your answer(s) and suggestions of other alternative terms
> would be welcome.)
> Thank you.
> Joel
> P.S. I seek an alternative term is the phrase in quotes above for at
> least 4 reasons: (a) the phrase is used ubiquitously in the field of
> employment testing and selection, (b) the phrase can be viewed as
> insulting and demoralizing, (c) most employment tests of GMA do not
> measure all major aspects of cognitive ability much less all aspects, 
> and (d) I think the use of the term "cognitive ability" is holding back
> progress in developing new employee selection procedures.
> FYI - The APA Dictionary (2015) defines cognitive ability as follows:
> Cognitive ability: the skills involved in performing the tasks
> associated with perception, learning, memory, understanding, awareness,
> reasoning, judgment, intuition, and language. (Page 202)
> --
> Joel P. Wiesen, Ph.D., Director
> Applied Personnel Research
> 62 Candlewood Road
> Scarsdale, NY 10583-6040
> http://www.linkedin.com/in/joelwiesen
> (617) 244-8859
> http://appliedpersonnelresearch.com
> Continuing Education website (home study of recent journal articles):
> https://www.aprtestingservice.com/
> Note: This e-mail and any attachments may contain confidential and/or
> legally privileged information. Please do not forward any contents without
> permission. If you have received this message in error please destroy all
> copies, completely remove it from your computer, and notify the sender.
> Thank you.
> _______________________________________________________
> IPAC-List
> IPAC-List at ipacweb.org
> https://pairlist9.pair.net/mailman/listinfo/ipac-list

More information about the IPAC-List mailing list