Historicizing Intelligence 2
Intelligence and mental ability testing in Norway ca. 1900 to the present. A long-term perspective on knowledge, objects and practices
The aim of this work package is to trace the use and development of intelligence tests in Norway over the 20th century. The work package will, in particular, study processes of translation and adaptation of tests to Norwegian contexts, spanning industrial, educational, and clinical uses, alongside transnational exchanges. Furthermore, the work package will study the practices, exchanges and controversies the tests enacted and provoked. The work package will combine material examinations of the tests and studies of archival holdings and published work related to their design and use.
Lines of research
The work package will develop two intertwined research lines that so far have attracted little historical attention: the tests’ “clinical lives” and “shelf lives”.
First, we will explore a selection of tests and explicate how they came into being with a distinct emphasis on their uses outside of their initially intended educational context to include their clinical uses within psychiatry and psychology. We will focus on the material characteristics and practices that made certain tests and concepts ubiquitous, and through this technology-in-use approach, we will also examine the tests and concepts that were not as successful and were eventually abandoned.
Second, we will examine the commercial considerations of the translation, adaption and distribution of two groups of tests, the Stanford Binets and the Wechslers, focusing on the period from the late 1930s until the late 1970s. This expands the already established literature on how intelligence tests “travel” to include contracts, copyright legislation, taxes, duties and regulatory and professional concerns. As such, this study will contribute to an understanding of how intelligence tests became internationally standardized commercial products and how marketing and organizing practices have shaped the legitimacy of IQ testing methodologies.
Ageliki Lefkaditou comes from the biological sciences and has researched the history and philosophy of life sciences with a special interest in negotiations between biophysical and sociocultural factors. As a former science museum curator, she has a strong commitment to science communication. Gard Paulsen is trained in business history or the history of science and technology. He has he has in-depth experience with historical research on quantification and statistics in science and business.