IQ’s Corner: Book Nook: General and specific mental skills General knowledge

In the history of mental ability testing, two opposite approaches have dominated, psychometry and neuropsychology. These two traditions have different theories and methods, but overlap significantly in the tests they use. Historically, psychometry has emphasized the primacy of a general factor, while neuropsychology has highlighted certain skills that are dissociable. This problem about the nature of human mental faculties is important for many practical concerns. Questions such as gender, ethnic, and age-related differences in mental ability are relatively easy to answer if they can be traced back to a single dominant trait. Such a characteristic can presumably be measured with every collection of complex cognitive tests. If there are many specific mental skills, they would be much more difficult to measure and the social problems involved would be more difficult to solve. The relative importance of general and specific skills also has an impact on educational practices. This book contains the different opinions of experts from different fields, including psychometry, neuropsychology, language and hearing as well as applied psychology.

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