Modern I.Q. Theorists - Arthur Jensen

RANDOM QUOTE: "An agreeable person is someone who agrees with you." --- Proverb

Arthur Jensen

(August 24, 1923 - )

American Educational Psychologist


  • University of California, Berkley, B.A., 1945
  • San Diego State College, M.A., 1952
  • Columbia University, Ph.D., 1956


  • 1955-1956, University of Maryland, Psychiatric Institute, Baltimore, MD, assistant in medical psychology
  • 1956-1958, University of London, Institute of Psychiatry, research fellow
  • 1958-1966, University of California, Berkley, professor, research psychologist at Institute of Human Learning (1961- ), and professor of educational psychology (1966- )

Major Contributions

  • Major proponent of the hereditarian position

Ideas & Interests

Arthur Jensen is a prominent educational psychologist who is best known for a controversial essay on genetic heritage that was first published in the February 1969 edition of the Harvard Educational Review. In the late 1950s, he did postdoctoral research in London with Hans J. Eysenck, one of England's leading psychologists. "Like Eysenck, Jensen is a differential psychologist-- that is, one 'most concerned with how and why persons differ behaviorally from one another, as they so obviously do.' He was particularly influenced by the English psychologist's quantitative and experimental approach to personality research "(Moritz, p. 210).Upon returning to the United States, Jensen became a research and professor at the University of California, Berkley, where he focused on individual differences in learning, especially the influences of culture, development, and genetics on intelligence and learning. He has concentrated much of his work on the learning difficulties of culturally disadvantaged students.

Around 1962, Jensen began extensive testing of black, Mexican-American, and other minority-group school children, developing a series of "culturally-free" intelligence tests that could be administered in any language. The results of that program soon led him to distinguish between two separate types of learning ability (or intelligence): Level I, or associative learning, may be defined as simple retention of input--that is, rote memorization of simple facts and skills; Level II, or conceptual learning, is roughly equivalent to the attribute measured by I.Q. tests--the ability to manipulate and transform inputs--that is, the ability to solve problems.

Statistical analysis of his findings led Jensen to conclude that Level I abilities were distributed equally among members of all races, but that Level II occurred with significantly greater frequency among whites than among blacks (and among Asians somewhat more than among whites). (Moritz, p. 211)

Because of these and other study results, Jensen was convinced, as had been the English psychologist Cyril Burt, that 80 percent of intelligence is based on heredity, and 20 percent on environment. As a result, he was convinced that intelligence is fundamentally an inherited trait. Jensen concluded "that the well-known differences in performance on intelligence tests of American blacks and white, with whites as a group regularly scoring higher than blacks as a group at all social-class levels, were due to inherent and essentially unchangeable intellectual differences between the two races, rather than to the effects of poverty, discrimination, and similar remediable factors (Moritz, p. 211)." Many perceived Jensen's finding as racist and he set off an intense controversy with the 1969 publication of his genetic research results in a 123-page article in the Harvard Educational Review. "The sound and the fury surprised and puzzled Jensen, who felt his findings were of vital importance, and who had intended to open up for objective discussion a subject that, he believed, had been too long swept under the rug. (Moritz, p. 211)"

Jensen continued to research racial and hereditary influences on intelligence. In his 1979 book, Bias in Mental Testing, he presented the values and validity of mental tests. Jensen concluded,

"None of these attempts to create highly culture-reduced tests had succeeded in eliminating, or even appreciably reducing, the mean differences between certain subpopulations--race and social class. . . . It's better to reply on a test than on the whims of an interviewer or employer. The tests are color blind, and that should be reassuring. (Evory, p. 353)"


  • Social Class, Race, and Psychological Development with M. Deutsch and I. Katz (1968)
  • "How Much Can We Boost I.Q. and Scholastic Achievement?," Harvard Educational Review, (February, 1969)
  • Genetics and Education (1973)
  • Bias in Mental Testing (1979)
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