IQ Test and Cultural Bias

IQ tests are used to evaluate individuals’ intelligence and cognitive abilities, such as problem-solving, reasoning, memory, etc; however, they are not flawless and complete. 

One of the most common issues of IQ tests is “cultural bias,” which refers to cultural factors affecting the final results of intelligence tests.

Cultural bias in IQ tests can greatly affect the assessment results, which can have significant consequences for test takers and society.

In this article, we are going to discuss how cultural bias affects IQ test results, how are intelligence tests culturally biased, and more.

Definition of IQ

IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and is a total score derived from a standard test designed to measure an individual’s intelligence and reasoning ability.

The term IQ was first coined in 1912 by William Stern, who was a psychologist; this term is in relation to the German word “intelligenzquotient.”

IQ tests are supposed to determine how well someone can use information to answer questions or make predictions.

Note that a standard IQ test is well-structured, researched, and conducted by a trained professional.

What Is Cultural Bias

What Is Cultural Bias

Cultural bias is defined as a highlighted distinction in a viewpoint that believes one culture is above another. 

In other words, cultural bias introduces one culture’s (group’s) behavior and characteristics more valued than other cultures.

For example, smiling is a sign of happiness in some cultures that suggest you only smile at people you know, while in other cultures, it means a friendly gesture that you can smile at all people.

Moreover, cultural bias is known as a factor that determines where people live and what health and educational opportunities they have in life.

Cultural Bias in IQ Tests

Cultural Bias in IQ Tests

As you may know, cultural bias in IQ tests is a serious issue that has far-reaching consequences on test scores, as it can cause inaccurate assessments of intelligence and unfair results for individuals from certain cultural groups.

Researchers believe that IQ tests mostly favor the cultures that developed them, which means white societies.

Moreover, cultural bias in IQ tests can negatively impact individuals’ career and educational opportunities.

The consequences of cultural bias deeply affect IQ tests because they are mostly administered in culturally diverse contexts.

If an intelligence test contains cultural bias, it is impossible to successfully evaluate a person’s cognitive ability and intelligence.

To avoid such cultural bias, using neutral language and symbols in the questions is important, providing essential support and accommodations for individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.

How Are Intelligence Tests Culturally Biased?

It is good to know that intelligence tests are culturally biased in different ways. The first thing that shows cultural bias in IQ tests is the language and vocabulary used in the test may be difficult for specific cultural groups.

Moreover, the content of some questions may be more relevant to certain cultural groups. As an example, if an IQ test question asks about baseball statistics is more familiar to someone who is from the United States rather than someone from a country where baseball is not a popular sport.

Besides, when experts analyze differences in the average IQ scores of different groups, they believe that cultural bias may not be the main issue. Instead, they contend that socioeconomic status plays an important role in the final results of IQ tests.

In simple words, whether someone is rich or poor can have more impact on IQ scores than ethnicity.

How Cultural Bias Affect IQ Test Results

How Cultural Bias Affect IQ Test Results

As you may know, there are various examples of cultural bias in IQ tests, such as the questions in the assessment, the testing environment, and the content of questions.

The impact of cultural bias on IQ test results can be significant both for test takers and society because individuals who are unfairly disadvantaged due to cultural bias may miss different educational or employment opportunities.

Moreover, society may miss out on talented individuals who took a culturally biased IQ test and were rejected because of this bias.

It is good to know that many organizations are trying to address cultural bias in IQ tests by developing intelligence tests that are more culturally neutral, but these efforts are not always effective.

How to Address Cultural Bias in IQ Tests

How to Address Cultural Bias in IQ Tests

Cultural bias in IQ tests has been a longstanding issue that leads to inaccurate assessments; it is almost impossible to remove all cultural bias from intelligence tests, but there are different ways that help to ensure the test is as relevant as possible.

The first thing developers can do is use culturally neutral language and symbols in test questions.

Moreover, non-verbal tests such as Matrix Reasoning and Block Design, which are unrelated to language and education, are another helpful way to reduce cultural bias in IQ tests.

IQ test administrators can take steps to ensure that test-takers will get essential support and accommodations to perform their best on the test.

It is important to avoid using visual items only relevant to a small population group; note that using abstract and geometrics shapes avoids culturally meaningful images.

As the final suggestion, translating the IQ test questions into several languages is also important in addressing and reducing cultural bias.


It is important to note that IQ tests are not always a fair and accurate way to measure someone’s cognitive abilities and intelligence.

As you know, cultural bias plays an important role in IQ tests and can greatly impact the final test results, which is why organizations, universities, companies, and all places that use IQ tests as evaluation tools must consider cultural bias.

Finally, by addressing these biases, test administrators can create a more equal society where everyone has the opportunity to reach their potential.

We hope this article helps you better understand cultural bias in IQ tests.

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