Original Research

The bell curve revisited: A South African perspective

Johann M. Schepers
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 25, No 2 | a671 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v25i2.671 | © 1999 Johann M. Schepers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 June 1999 | Published: 25 June 1999

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Johann M. Schepers, Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa

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Abstract

The principal objective of the study was to examine some of the scientific premises of The Bell Curve by Herrnstein and Murray (1996). It was shown that the hypothetical construct referred to as 'g' is nothing more than the aggregate of the various cognitive tests contained in the battery of tests that is subjected to factor analysis. The nature of g, therefore, depends on the composition of the test battery. Furthermore, it was shown that the predictive validity of multiple factors is always better than that of g alone. The validity of Spearman's hypothesis was investigated and found wanting. The critical role of formal schooling in the development of intellect (both fluid and crystallised) was discussed with reference to illiterate adults in South Africa. The importance of the interaction of heredity and environment was stressed. The best genetic endowment can only come to fruition in a stimulating environment. The relationship between locus of control and intelligence was discussed.

Opsomming
Die hoofdoelstelling van die studie was om die wetenskaplike aannames waarop The Bell Curve deur Herrnstein en Murray (1996) gebaseer is, te ondersoek. Dit is aangetoon dat die hipotetiese konstruk, bekend as 'g', niks meer is as die somtotaal van die Verskillende kognitiewe toetse wat in die battery ingesluit is en aan faktorontleding onderwerp word. Hierbenewens is getoon dat die voorspellingsgeldigheid van veelvuldige faktore altyd hoer is as die van g alleen. Die geldigheid van Spearman se hipotese is ondersoek en gebrekkig bevind. Die kritieke rol van formele skoolopleiding in die ontwikkeling van intellik (sowel vloeibaar as gekristalliseerd) is bespreek met verwysing na ongeletterde volwassenes in Suid-Afrika. Die belangrikheid van interaksie tussen oorerwing en omgewing is beklemtoon. Die beste genetiese potensiaal kan slegs tot verwekliking kom in 'n stimulerende omgewing. Die verband tussen lokus van beheer en intelligensie is bespreek.


Keywords

Bell curve

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