Paradigm of Intelligence as a factor of Political Control



Present study reviews the misuse of the paradigm of intelligence in past and present era by power holding classes and nations for the exploitation and political control over minorities and underdeveloped nations. Historically weak nations, minority groups and poor social classes have been exploited emotionally, physically, politically, culturally and as well as intellectually. Colonial powers propagated themselves intellectually superior and culturally developed, using the latest development in social sciences as a weapon to control the minds and the consciousness of the colonized people. Paradigm of Intelligence has logical basis but it was misused with false and subjective evidences, based on invalid and unreliable intelligence tests. Analysis indicates that psychological tests are still being used inappropriately. Many countries are just translating and using Western norms based tests for various academic and clinical purposes by ignoring their own cultural and national traditions. Socially suppressed individuals and minority people, grown up in restricted and conflicted culture, have a tendency to escape from un-essential tasks. They develop a specific hostility, which leads them to reject academic and intellectual achievements. Individual differences are a real phenomenon but intelligence tests are not able to measure complete mental faculties of human beings. It is necessary to be careful while administering the intelligence tests on the individuals from low SES strata.

General Information

Keywords: Paradigm of Intelligence, Exploitation, Underdeveloped Country, Colonial Countries, Social Classes, Will to Power, Psychological Testing.

Journal rubric: Theory and Methodology

Article type: scientific article

For citation: Pervez T., Kazmi F. Paradigm of Intelligence as a factor of Political Control. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2011. Vol. 7, no. 2, pp. 60–65.

Full text


The history of humankind is the history of domina­tion and exploitation of powerful groups over others. This exploitation has multiple faces, such as; exploita­tion of unprivileged classes by the power holding class­es, exploitation of people by the ruling state machinery, the exploitation of poor nations by the developed nations and exploitation of the many by the few [38]. The aim of this domination and exploitation was to get hold the available economic resources owned by other countries. Lenin has very rightly asserted that the con­quest and exploitation have remained a major function of warfare between nations [6, p. 398]. Study reveals that Imperialism oppressed the indigenous people and destroyed the entire civilizations being most powerful force in the world history over the last five centuries [47, p. 318]. It created and maintained unequal econom­ical, cultural and territorial relationships between states, based on domination and subordination [30].

The most important aspect of this long rooted histori­cal fact is that the both, Imperialism and colonialism developed specific ideologies and practiced them to rule other territories [18, p. 116]. These ideologies were designed to provide moral force of exploitation for their domination [70] They made claims about their superiori­ty when they conquered and ruled others countries, designed a system of authoritarian rule based on exploita­tion and projected them as culturally developed and supe­rior [1, 18, 28]. It proves the assertion of Marxs and Hillix that, «Advancement in theories takes place when time is right» [37]. Friedrich Nietzsche and Alfred Adler has the­orized that only those ideas are promoted which provide the safe-guard to the interest of the ruling classes also the aim of the promotion of these ideas is the strong «Will to Power» of the oppressive nation [2, p. 738; 8]. The most important theory in this regard was the theory of democ­racy which was projected widely and used as a tool to implement liberal economy. It was used as a camouflage to hide, cover-up and the exploitation and domination [25].

Historical review reveals that in the 5th century BC, Greeks claimed themselves superior than other nation to whom they surrendered [42]. Similarly Chinese emperors at their peak presented similar views about themselves. The Ch'ing Emperor K'ang-hsi (from 1661 to 1722) gave incredible and ridiculous remarks about Westerners, i.e. «It is impossible to reason with them because they do not understand larger issues as we understand in China,» [68]. In sub continent of India, Arians presented the phi­losophy of cast system and distributed the society into four main classes. They proclaimed themselves the more intelligent and superior race whereas the local races were declared inferior in all aspects [57, p. 47; 63]. Arian prop­agated the cast theory in such a way that even after 4000 years it is still alive and effective. The individuals belong to low cast are still neglected, considered inferior and are deprived politically and socially.

America and Britain were more 'wiser' and 'sensible' in this regard. They presented theories and paradigms to prove their superiority on the basis of scientific grounds and publicized among the masses to justify their rule. For example it was theorized that; «It is desirable that the earth should be peopled, governed and developed, as far as possible, by the races which can do this work best, i.e. by the races of highest social efficiency [28]. Applying such theories , the small nations and the people were exploited emotionally, physically, politically, culturally and as well as intellectually [15].

In Indo Pak, British presented the notion of «Martial Races», just to control over those militant groups who were against their rule [21, p. 15]. Also, to accelerate recruitment from «loyal» Sikhs, Punjabi Muslims, Dogras, Gurkas and Pakhtuns and to discourage enlistment of «disloyal» Bengalis and high-caste Hindus, who had sided with the rebel army during the war of independence in 1857. In real sense, this theory was also the clever effort of British to divide and rule the people of India for their own political ends [55]. The British exploited this concept to strengthen their rule in India [56]. The concept was strongly disseminated through literature with a result that people of sub continent still believer of this theory.

It seems that ruling elite always thought it necessary to develop various theories and paradigms regarding the cultural emotional, physical intellectual aspects of the nations and groups they had conquered, with the aim to; humiliate them, inferior and incapable, consequently to shatter their confidence and to strengthen their political control [15]. Pettigrew concluded that the racial oppression and conflict have remained a major concern of the USA throughout its history [49]. Fanon [15, 16] has asserted that the colonial powers made every effort to internalize colonial cultural values into the con­sciousness of colonized individuals and to admit the inferiority of their own. Consequently, a specific type of low self-esteem and alienation became the fate of the colonized people. The paradigm of «Intelligence» is also one of such systematic efforts, which was developed on scientific basis and prompted to achieve the aim of «Will to Power» and it was used unethically and unfairly to prove the inferiority of colonized nations.

Paradigm of Intelligence

Intelligence is a concept that we use in our daily lives that seems to have a fairly concrete but naive, meaning. However, it is such a rich topic which has extremely com­plex intellectual, social and political history. Despite a long history of research and debate, there is still no stan­dard definition of intelligence [33]. Sternberg noted that there are as many definitions of intelligence as there are experts asked to define it [62]. That the concept of intel­ligence is employed to indicate the amount of knowledge available and the quickness with which new knowledge is acquired [36]. Sometimes it stands for the ability to; adapt the new situations, handle concepts, relationships, abstract, symbols. Capron, Adrian, Vetta and Atam have asserted that IQ tests measures some elements of intelli­gent behaviour which is associated with academic per­formance [11, p. 115].

Some other psychologists believe that It is also related to many important aspects of behaviour such as quick mastery of the new tasks, adaptation to the new situations, success level in school, job performance, social status, income and also the ability to deal effectively with the emotional side of life [43, 61]. However, such relationships between intelli­gence and outcomes of life are far from perfection [4]. Smallwood stresses that the IQ Test could be an accurate measure of certain kinds of intelligence, such as; person's lateral-thinking abilities, or an individuals' ability to deal with abstract concepts. Also that IQ Test cannot be consid­ered as a predictor of educational achievement, performance in the workplace and the success of an individual [59].

Though intelligence is an old concept [13, 35] but it is strange phenomenon that the research on intelligence was initiated simultaneously, in various colonial countries in start of 1900s, when colonial nations have made almost complete control over week nations. Initial bases provided the works of: Charles Darwin (1809—1882) and Francis Galton (1822—1911) in Britain; Alfred Binet (1857— 1911) in France; Lewis Terman (1877—1956) in US [49]. In the first decade of 20th century many standardized intelligence tests were designed and these became popular among the masses and the institutions [5, 51, p. 8]. On the basis of these so-called «Standardized Intelligence Tests» colonial countries proved themselves intellectually superi­or to colonized people. After 1900 many researches try to proved (e. g. Galton, Termen, Burt, and Jensen) that heredity plays much more prominent role in the develop­ment of intellectual abilities than does the environment and many races possess low IQ because of their differences in heredity endowment [30]. Burt, based on his «scientif­ic studies» concluded that poor people and the working class were regularly of inferior intelligence compared to middle and upper class [10, p. 85]. On the basis of such studies, after using IQ tests on mass level it was theorized that: «Jews are mentally inferior so they should throw out of America; Blacks and Asians have low IQ (IQ 70 to 80) and Black should not be allowed to increase their genera­tion». They also viewed that «Children from inferior Nations lack Imaginative thinking and abstract reasoning, need special schooling, are not fit for higher jobs and are not fit for higher studies» [10, 28].

These findings had a powerful impact on the educa­tional system in England and around the world [29, p. 102]. However, with the reference to the socio-culture controversy on intelligence, the issue became very crucial and controversial. Kamin [31] on the basis of evidences, rejected the theory of hereditarianism. Later studies con­cluded that Burt [10] falsified his data and invented cru­cial facts to support his controversial theory [49, 65]. Hearnshaw has reported that most of Burt's data was unreliable or fraudulent. Klineberg also concluded that all such conclusions were biased/bogus and fraud [25]. These studies were based on; biased sampling, non-standardized and culturally biased tests and wrong inferences [17]. Another study concluded that the Stanford-Binet and the WISC IQ tests are «Culture specific tests,» which repre­sent the culture of white middle class. Radical Marxist critics have charged that IQ testing and IQ research done by the work of Arthur Jensen, are either disguised racist ideology or pseudo-psychological science [57].

The present reports on the basis of several statistical measures of intelligence, reveal that those nations who were once considered below average on the basis of intel­ligence tests are making higher scores on these tests. For example Asian and Chinese consistently score highest, than the Europeans and Americans descent as well as than those of African descent [33, 34, 68]. Some other studies indicate that African Americans perform better on IQ tests than do Whites. They have been reported to exceed American born whites in several of the cognitive, socio­economic indicators — the areas of educational attainment and occupational status [12, p. 243; 44, p. 70].

We can safely infer from these findings, that some dif­ferences in intelligence exist between the different nations yet, many socioeconomic factors and many other unknown factors also play vital role for this obvious group differences in IQ scores. The low validity of the items of the IQ tests which are being used on the individuals of dif­ferent races and socio cultural background also gives biased results [31, 65]. Restricted cultural environment e.g., insisting the children to work alone and sit still and quietly in class and at home, is another possibility that minority persons score lowest [9]. Actually, minority peo­ple grow up in restricted and conflicted culture and fail to develop their self-esteem to face the challenging tasks.

Low self esteem of individuals from under developed communities keep them avoiding exerting themselves on any challenging task [45]. They grow up with low expectancies, believing that effort on their part will not result in better outcomes. Consequently, they develop a specific hostility, which leads them to reject academic achievements and other forms of behavior described by majority group [4]. Gottfried established that intelli­gence reduce by the absence of certain forms of environ­mental stimulation early in life and when removing chil­dren from sterile, restricted environments and placing them in more favorable settings cause to enhance their intellectual growth [20, 58].

Misuse of Intelligence Tests in Pakistan and in Under Developed Countries

Today standardized testing of intellectual and cogni­tive functioning is a critical component of psychological assessment despite the widespread criticism of the prac­tice [23, p. 37]. However, these tests are still used inap­propriately, misinterpreted or over interpreted for making decisions about the individuals not only in underdevel­oped countries but also in developed countries, which causes to harm the individuals and even society as a whole [38]. An important criterion of test development for Pakistani population is to utilize the sources of religion, literature and cultural heritage, side by side of the Western techniques. Just to translate the Western tests by ignoring our Eastern traditions cannot be considered a rational and logical approach. Rather the scores yielded by these tests may misguide us [64]. At present approxi­mately more than 16 postgraduate psychology depart­ments are present in Pakistan but none is capable to initi­ate a research program at national level because little gov­ernment funding goes to research, which means universi­ties focus more on teaching [40]. Because of the economic issues, no any department of psychology in Pakistan could develop national data based /culture faire intelligence test to be used reliably. Rather borrowed tests are being used for every purpose. Analysis reveals Psychological testing has been very neglected area in Pakistan for example only 12 % Research papers were published on psychological testing in Pakistani journals (from 1964—2003) [63]. An interesting fact in this regard is that many civil depart­ments and organizations, which are using tests for screen­ing purpose, are ignorant about the importance of the psy­chometric techniques and the standardized tests. If any civil organization is using tests for personnel selection these are not properly validated according to the local cul­ture and national requirements [64].

Keeping in view such issues, these tests never be con­sidered culture fair and suitable for all other nations unless they are scientifically adapted, rewritten in local language, with employing the same constructs and under lying logic and standardized on satisfactory sample of local popula­tion. As it is a laborious exercise and also demands lot of resources, thus in many cases experts / psychologists avoid it and just try to full fill their immediate need with­out caring the objectivity and the validity of the results.

It is also necessary that the practitioners should be able to assess not only the significance of general cogni­tive ability but also the role of other aspects of human intelligence which is not measured by the standardized intelligence tests [52] which create confusion when we use these tests uni-dimensionally. Many underdeveloped nations are just borrowing / purchasing so called «Standardized Tests» from the Western countries and using them without adapting them and without develop­ing local norms. For instance every well-known and widely used psychological tests developed in the USA was in English. These tests can't be valid for non English people even if translated into their own languages because English words with multiple meanings cannot be adequately translated. English idioms cannot be expressed in another language without changing the entire sentence structure along with the underlying logic of the sentence and when that happens standardization and the guarantee of fairness it promises, is lost [54].

In many cases the desired techniques and methodolo­gy are not observed to construct test items and test devel­opment/adaptations i.e. «The Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing» [3]. For example in many cases the development of a standardized test do not follow the suggested strategies by the experts, i.e. qualitative, co -relational, quasi-experimental, and experimental research to detect item biases [39, p. 127] which is also one of the causes for fluctuating results and error based judgment.

Fluctuations in Mental Test Scores also have been observed in many studies [48. p. 198] which have created doubts about the constant nature of Intelligence and the standardized measures. The use of such tests creates harms to the person being evaluated and interferes with the cause of justice. It also does damage to the reputation of psychol­ogists and the science of psychology as well [66]. To use the intelligence Tests and personality Tests from Internet is another unethical feature of testing. For example thousand of Psychological tests are available on Internet related to «employee recruitment» with very high claims. Many employers and the institutions use the popular tests, which are apparently quite appealing to select suitable employees or to screen the students for admission. The «Test and tell» approach is extremely inadequate and in unethical which is generally applied in such situations [42]. This approach is not only common in Pakistan but also in all over the world, which is necessary to be addressed by the psychologists. A study conducted in Philippine indicate that different test norms are needed for urban and rural children and the for­mat of intelligence test requires new items and a new analy­sis when new cultural groups are tested [22, p. 3].

The reality of the issue is that the individuals from minority groups and from the poor classes is generally, polit­ically suppressed and they suffer from economic frustra­tions. Consequently, they in any testing condition they behave casually and remain de-motivated to complete the task assigned to them. They reflect low self-esteem and have a tendency to escape from un-essential tasks. In brief they lack zeal and motivation for all type of challenging tasks. With a result, they perform low on all type intelligence tests. Once the socio-economic conditions are improved, their performance becomes remarkable. So it is necessary that psychologists should be extra careful while administer­ing the intelligence tests on the children from low SES stra­ta of population and drawing the conclusions on the basis of these results. They should also be extremely careful in applying the norms, derived from one specific sample of pop­ulation to the individuals of other cultural groups. We should not use the norms of any test blindly, derived from the sample from the Europe or USA on the individuals from other regions and the countries unless these tests and norms are objectively and culturally standardized.


Colonial and imperialist powers, designed many fascist strategies to achieve the aim of «will to power» and to get hold the resources of other countries. They used the latest development in social sciences as a weapon to control the minds and the consciousness of the colonized people and structured various paradigms including Paradigm of Intelligence to prove themselves genetically and intellec­tually superior and consequently to justify their political, economic and cultural supremacy. They used so-called culture fair intelligence tests, which were actually invalid and unreliable. It caused to develop socio-culture contro­versy and pseudo causes to keep others deprived of their basic rights. In technical sense, these intelligence tests are not able to measure complete mental faculties of human beings, thus to be used with extra care. Borrowed tests from other countries may not be valid and reliable for local population unless these tests are objectively and cultural­ly standardized. Similarly, the institutions and the organ­izations should be extra careful while using tests available on different websites. These tests may give some informa­tion about the individuals who are being tested but must not be valid. Especially, the use of all such tests by the organizations is highly unethical and unjust for; the screening of individuals for admissions in academic insti­tutions or for the selection/suitability of personnel.


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Information About the Authors

Tahir Pervez, Doctor of Psychology, Research officer & instructor at the National University of Science and Technology (Pakistan), Mansehra, Pakistan, e-mail:

Farhana S. Kazmi, Doctor of Psychology, Assistant professor at the Hazara University, Manserha (Pakistan), Mansehra, Pakistan, e-mail:



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