Sensory discrimination and intelligence: post-mortem or resurrection?

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This historical review addresses the following problem: If researchers at the start of the twentieth century failed to find associations between intelligence and the senses, why do present-day researchers report significant associations between sensory discrimination and IQ-type test scores? The studies most often referred to as having failed to link intelligence differences to differences in sensory discrimination were conducted by Galton (1883), Sharp (1898-1899), and Wissler (1901). It is shown that these studies are often reported inaccurately and that they have deficiencies that make them almost worthless for empirical evaluation. Other, less frequently cited studies conducted about the same time consistently reported modest and significant associations between SenSory discrimination and estimates of mental ability which concur with more recent research. The widely held current view about the failure of historical attempts to relate intelligence to the senses is incorrect because it is based upon inaccurate reports of a few poorly conducted negative studies and the omission of positive findings from other research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-115
Number of pages21
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1994




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