How to get someone’s g

“Intelligence”, “IQ”, “g” (due to Spearman), are terms that are bandied around.

The following may be helpful: the gist of how to calculate someone’s g score, which is often used as the measure of someone’s “intelligence”.

For example, that’s the “IQ”/”intelligence” referred to in the recentish BBC article on research linking childhood intelligence and adult vegetarianism (clever children grow into clever vegetarian adults).

  1. Give hundreds or thousands of people a dozen tests of ability.
  2. Zap everyone’s scores with PCA or factor analysis.
  3. g is the first component and usually explains around half the variance.  Here’s an example genre of analysis of g with other facets to psychometric intelligence.
  4. Use the component to calculate a score.  For factor analysis there are many ways to do this, e.g. Thompson’s scores, Bartlett’s weighted least-squares.  The gist is that for each person you compute a weighted sum of their scores, where the weights are a function of how loaded the particular test score was on g.
  5. To get something resembling an IQ score, scale it so it has a mean of 100 and an SD of 15.
  6. Talk about it as if it were a substantive psychological construct, rather than a statistical artefact 😉

What is this mysterious g thing?

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