Culture Fair Intelligence Test Critique

Psychological Test Critique Written By Christian J. Ashliman

The Culture Fair Intelligence Test, or CFIT, is an evaluation of an individual’s IQ using methods that strive to remove any sort of cultural bias. Primarily, its goal is to test general abilities that are comparably independent of academic achievement, socioeconomic status, and other similar environmental factors. CFIT is organized on three different scales, each one coordinating to a specific age group. Scale 1 is intended for children aged 4-8, Scale 2 for 8-14 year-olds, and Scale 3 corresponds to adults. Within each scale, lie eight different subtests, measuring things like picture classification, object series recognition, direction following, and geometric spatial ability. Administration of this intelligence test is essentially straight forward, with each subtest requiring only a pencil and paper. The only exception to this is subtest 5 in Scale 1, which requires several specific objects.

The standardization of this test had to occur on three separate fronts, due to there being three different scales within the domain of the test itself. For Scale 1, 400+ individuals were chosen from both American and British populations, and their samples were compiled on a raw score scale; which was also accompanied by an IQ/percentile conversion chart. In creating the norm for Scale 2, 4,328 boys and girls were sampled from various regions around the United States and Britain, once again, with their respected IQ conversion statistics. However, in this scale, they also included a table of specialized norms for children between ages 14 and 15. Moving into Scale 3, the sample was standardized with 3,140 young-adults who were all randomly selected from American high schools, including some young adults who held jobs.

Validity within the realm of the Culture Fair Intelligence Test is interesting, to say the least. When comparing the evidence of validity to other, similar, intelligence tests, results show a list of strong correlations. On Spearman’s general mental capacity tests, the CFIT ran a correlation of .53, all the way to .99, for Americans, and .78 to .83 for British samples. Furthermore, when contrasting the entirety of the CFIT, correlations ranging .56 to .85 on the Stanford-Binet were found, while correlations averaging .84 were discovered on the Wechsler-Bellevue. These correlations provide a strong case to be made for the content and construct validity of the CFIT. Seemingly, when paired up against the commonly reviewed tests mentioned above, the CFIT matches up quite well, proving that, for the most part, it is able to adequately measure what it intends to measure: an individual’s intelligence. This fact alone leaves much to be said for the intricate way that the CFIT tries navigating a “culture fair” testing experience. The area where the CFIT appears to falter is in regards to the predictive validity of anticipating academic achievement. When correlated with the Stanford Achievement Test, or SAT, results showed only a .36 coefficient. However, there was slight speculation as to if this correlation was tested correctly; being mainly examined on attendees of a summer school who were already dealing with educational setbacks. The goal of fostering a valid test is always of paramount importance within the field. Various faucets of validity were appropriately uncovered with the CFIT by correlating it to each of these older, more established testing methods.

Reviews contributed by Professor J. E. Milholland and Associate Dean A. J. Tannenbaum provide a fleshed out view and analysis of the CFIT, focusing on testing validity, and whether or not this measure is actually able to be successful in its findings, without being influenced by cultural outliers. In Milholland’s analysis, he explains in detail the way in which each scale functions within the CFIT, and what specific skills or masteries are being scrutinized on every subtest; both for the children’s scale and the adults scale. He then shifts his attention to the methods used to standardize the CFIT, which is where his criticism begins. Focusing mainly on the samples themselves, Milholland lightly raises issue at conflicting sample qualifications for Scale 3, finding that one description allows for job stratification throughout the sample, while another description omits the potentiality of sample participants having a job. He goes on to critique the testing manual, finding several areas within the text to be at odds with one another, particularly in the sights of testing immigrants; where it was found that some correlations to other tests (i.e. the Stanford-Binet) fell dramatically in their coefficients. Milholland digresses, stating that tests such as the CFIT have an extremely noble, but nearly impossible, goal: creating a test that is completely free of cultural influence, while still measuring your intelligence on a standardized scale. Tannenbaum follows a similar vein in his analysis, starting off by commenting on the various workings of the CFIT, and explaining in great detail the circumstances under which the CFIT has validity. His focus, however, is shifted from that of Milholland’s, in that Tannembaum delves into the mechanics of crystallized versus fluid intelligence, and how these two constructs have a potential effect on tests such as the CFIT. He later argues that in a test such as the CFIT, measuring fluid intelligence in union with “latent potential”, it is impossible to see little to no cultural influence.

The CFIT is an interesting test with a seemingly impossible goal of reaching an IQ result, without having culture play any part into how you got said result. The settings where this test could flourish would be in any kind of diverse population situation, where there would be an influx of foreign peoples or immigrants. This could be in schools, colleges, or even workplaces with high turnover and lower job requirements. The CFIT seems to be more of an ideal, or work in progress, than a reliable, sturdy test. The methods used to standardize the test were not exhaustive, and only pulled from two areas of the world. While this test might suffice when finding a quick IQ under fairly cultural specific circumstances (American and British cultures), it doesn’t appear to maintain solid criterion-based validity in its practice.


Cattell, R. B., & Cattell, A. K. S. (1973). Culture Fair Intelligence Test. Retrieved from

Milholland, J., E. (2014). [Review of the Culture Fair Intelligence Test]. Ebsco Host. ZQ%3d%3d#AN=test.3501&db=mmt

Tannenbaum, A., J. (2014). [Review of the Culture Fair Intelligence Test]. Ebsco Host. ZQ%3d%3d#AN=test.3501&db=mmt


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