EDST 391 Intelligence in Everyday Life


P/F Writing Assignment for Day 8

Complexity as the key to g’s importance in everyday life, II:

Job tasks as mental test items



1. Pp. 92-96 discuss complexity as the "active ingredient" in IQ test items.

a. Pick several of those test items and explain—very specifically—why some are more complex than others and therefore create heavier cognitive demands in information processing?

2. Please analyze the task demands of some everyday role (but not a job), such as parent, friend, sibling, or team captain. Specifically:

  • a. What kinds of information-processing does that role require? (That is, to what extent, and why, is it g loaded?) Look at Tables 6 and (especially) 7 (or its summary) in the Gottfredson reading to see which kinds of information processing demands are most highly correlated with job complexity and thus most g loaded.
  • b. What other personal attributes besides g do you think that role might require for good performance? You can interview other people, if you like. It may also be helpful to look at the list of major personality dimensions, "the big five," that researchers have documented. It is important to know that they are correlated little or not at all with g.

IMPORTANT Note: There is usually some confusion at this point about the difference between g level and g loadedness. g is an attribute of people (how smart they are) and g loadedness is an attribute of tasks or tests (how complex they are--and thus how much they call forth or demand g). Think of g loading as the intellectual demandingness of a task. The more complex or intellectually demanding a task is, the bigger the advantage high-g people have over dull people in performing it well. Complex jobs put a premium on high g, but it matters a lot less how smart someone is when the task is simple. This last point is VERY VERY important to remember.

Clarification of technical terms in the Gottfredson reading.

  • SD=standard deviation (a measure of dispersion or variation, as you know)
  • All those numbers in the tables are correlations and can be treated here as the tasks' g loadings (more precisely, they are the jobs' complexity loadings). The correlations are calculated from data gathered by rating hundreds of jobs on many dozens of specific characteristics (such as "How important is compiling information in this job?"). (There are no people or IQ scores involved here! The jobs are the experimental subjects.) So, all the numbers in the tables are correlations between how different jobs rank in overall complexity level, on the one hand, and how they rank on a variety of other, more specific characteristics (such as prestige level, how much responsibility they entail, whether they require much persuading or compiling information, etc.) The question these data get at is, "what job characteristics are a cause of job complexity (e.g., analyzing data) or a consequence of it (e.g., a lot of stress)?"
  • It may help to dispel some confusion by noting that the word "loading" in the term "g loading" refers to the "factor loadings" in factor analysis, which was the method used to calculate these correlations.