Intelligence & Cultural Assimilation

The textbook being quoted in this post is titled Psychology Frontiers and Applications, 3rd Edition, with appropriate page numbers in brackets following quote.

I had to get this post out and published before I head to bed.

I am currently studying for my psychology test in two weeks. I just finished reading a chapter on Intelligence. In this chapter, various factors that contribute to a person’s intelligence. Some of these factors include, genes, biology, environment and culture.

I am going to go out on a limb when I write this post, but I have to write it!

In this chapter it talked about Italian immigrants were a “danger to the [USA] gene pool.” (393) This quote obviously represents an old and out-dated view that tried to use Darwin’s theory of evolution to create superior and inferior species and animals. These dangers were because Italian American students achieved much lower test scores, which was on the same average as African-Americans. It further states, “cultural assimilation and educational and economic opportunity seem much more reasonable explanations for this pronounced increase in test scores.” (393) The test score increases were only discussed in Italian American students, not the African American student.

I was kind of not impressed with this particular reading for two reasons:

  1. The African American student was never discussed in the second part of the reading, which stated only the increase in Italian American Test scores could be possibly explained as part of “cultural assimilation.”
  2. This first reason leads into my second reason:

  3. It suggests that a particular ethnic group can only be successful on intelligence scores if they “learn” to assimilate into the larger culture.

This makes me quite angry with the fact that Aboriginals were one of the many groups that were supposed to be assimilated into Canadian society. Could it be this attempted assimilation be due to in part to the particular thought during the time? Sure why not. Unfortunately, this is 2010 and readings like this suggesting that a more reasonable explanation behind higher test scores for one particular ethnic group could possibly be because of “cultural assimilation” continue to force assimilation, not just onto one ethnic group but to any group that isn’t part of the “dominate” or “more western” culture.

  • Please read my post on “Extinction” regarding Aboriginals.
  • Read my response, titled Intelligence and Aboriginals, to this “reasonable explanation” of “cultural assimilation” in increased intelligence test scores.
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