Intelligence is the mental capability that involves a person’s ability to plan, reason, think abstractly, solve problems, learn quickly and from experience and comprehend complex ideas (Perloff, Sternberg & Urbina, 1996). African Americans grow in a culture where they people view intelligence as a means to develop categories and engage in rational debate. The culture of the African Americans revolves around media technologies such as television, films and video games. This gives them an advantage in visual tests.
The African-American frame of reference is based on the western culture. Among the Luo of Kenya and the African Americans, intelligence is the measure of peoples’ ability and competence in various aspects. Both cultures appreciate that academic intelligence forms a significant part of a person’s overall intelligence. However, several differences between the two cultures also abound regarding culture. The understanding of intelligence among African Americans is based on visual tests due to their cultural ties to media technologies such as films, television and video games. The Luo consider intelligence to be based on four concepts which include; academic intelligence, social qualities (respect, consideration and responsibility), practical thinking and comprehension. Of these only academic intelligence is regarded as a concept of intelligence by the western cultures to which African Americans subscribe.
The Ravens progressive matrices and the Iqtest.com are online intelligence tests that relate differently to cultural ties on intelligence. The Ravens progressive Matrices are non-verbal multiple choice questions to test general intelligence. The 60 questions test a person’s ability to identify missing elements to complete a given pattern. The test is non-verbal and therefore, based on social constructs. The Ravens matrices are based on cultivated ability to organize things in rows and columns and are therefore, culturally biased. They give advantage to people from cultures with formal schooling and disadvantage those who from cultures where formal schooling is rare. Iqtest.com is a scientific test available online that has for some time now been offered to schools, corporations and certified professional applications. The test is culturally balanced as it tests intelligence based on 13 different areas such as numeracy, logical reasoning, patterns, and vocabulary among others. According to Etienne (2003), the more the areas on which an intelligence test bases its conclusions, the more it is open to give consistent results to people from different cultures.
Socioeconomic status affects intelligence. Children from the upper socioeconomic strata of the society have access to more intellectual stimulation, obtain better social opportunities and obtain better nutrition. These advantages influence their intellectual development positively, and they therefore, tend to exhibit more intelligence than their peers who grow in disadvantaged socio-economic societies. According to Perloff, Sternberg & Urbina, (1996), socioeconomic status is based on parental occupation, education and income. The higher the socioeconomic status of a parent, the higher the IQ of his/her children.
Parent-child interaction is another cultural factor that affects the intelligence of a person. Parents are the first teachers of a child. The behavioral interaction between parents and children critically influences their intelligence. The intellectual capability of a child develops faster when parents provide emotional security, praise the child’s achievements, allow the child some independence and make the family environment supportive of the child’s ambitions. On the contrary, children who grow up in stressful family conditions, have their intellectual growth hampered. African American families are very close knit culturally. It is therefore, crucial that they provide supportive family environments to children to ensure that they support intellectual competence among children from their infancy.
ETIENNE B. (2003) Intelligence across cultures. Research in Africa, Asia and Latin America is showing how culture and intelligence interact. Monitor Staff Vol 34, No. 2 Print version:P. 56. Retrieved 28 Mar. 2012 from: http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb03/intelligence.aspx
Perloff, R., Sternberg, R.J, & Urbina, S. (1996). Intelligence: knowns and unknowns. American Psychologist.