Arthur Jensen

Arthur Jensen bigraphy, stories - American psychologist

Arthur Jensen : biography

24 August 1923 – October 22, 2012

Arthur Robert Jensen (August 24, 1923 – October 22, 2012) was a professor of educational psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jensen is known for his work in psychometrics and differential psychology, which is concerned with how and why individuals differ behaviorally from one another.

He was a major proponent of the hereditarian position in the nature versus nurture debate, the position that genetics play a significant role in behavioral traits, such as intelligence and personality. He was the author of over 400 scientific papers published in refereed journals and sat on the editorial boards of the scientific journals Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences.Intelligence and Personality and Individual Differences publisher’s pages.

He was rated as one of the 50 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century.Jensen is listed in a study by Haggblom et al. (2002), of the 100 most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century, at number 47. He was also a controversial figure, largely for his conclusions regarding the causes of race-based differences in intelligence.


The g Factor

The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (1998) is a book on the general intelligence factor (g). The book deals with the intellectual history of g and various models of how to conceptualize intelligence, and with the biological correlates of g, its heritability, and its practical predictive power.

Clocking the Mind

Clocking the Mind : Mental Chronometry and Individual Differences (2006) deals with mental chronometry (MC), and covers a variety of techniques for measuring the speed with which the brain processes information. Whereas IQ merely represents an interval (ranking) scale and thus possesses no true ratio scale properties, Jensen argues mental chronometry represents a true natural science of mental ability.

IQ and academic achievement

Jensen’s interest in learning differences directed him to the extensive testing of school children. The results led him to distinguish between two separate types of learning ability. Level I, or associative learning, may be defined as retention of input and rote memorization of simple facts and skills. Level II, or conceptual learning, is roughly equivalent to the ability to manipulate and transform inputs, that is, the ability to solve problems. Jensen concluded that Level I abilities were distributed equally among members of all races, but that Level II occurred with significantly greater frequency among whites and Asian-Americans than among African-Americans and Mexican-Americans.

Later, Jensen was an important advocate in the mainstream acceptance of the general factor of intelligence, a concept which was essentially synonymous with his Level II conceptual learning. The general factor, or g, is an abstraction that stems from the observation that scores on all forms of cognitive tests correlate positively with one another.

Jensen claimed, on the basis of his research, that general cognitive ability is essentially an inherited trait, determined predominantly by genetic factors rather than by environmental conditions. He also contended that while associative learning, or memorizing ability, is equally distributed among the races, conceptual learning, or synthesizing ability, occurs with significantly greater frequency in Asians than in whites. He suggested that from the data one might conclude that, on average, Asian Americans are more intelligent than white Americans.

Jensen’s most controversial work, published in February 1969 in the Harvard Educational Review, was titled "How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement?" It concluded, among other things, that Head Start programs designed to boost African-American IQ scores had failed, and that this was likely never to be remedied, largely because, in Jensen’s estimation, 80% of the variance in IQ in the population studied was the result of genetic factors and the remainder was due to environmental influences.