Army Alpha and Army Beta tests: what are they and what were they designed for?
Summary of the characteristics of the Army Alpha and Army Beta test, made for the US Army.
At the outbreak of World War I, the United States urgently needed a good army to ensure victory.
But the matter was not so easy, because not just anyone could handle the armament and organize the missions. Capable people were needed, and before sending them to the battlefield it was necessary to know their capabilities.
That is why Yerkes and Terman's group designed two tests, the Alpha Army and the Beta Army, to find out which soldiers were worthy and which were not.to find out which soldiers were good and which were not, as well as to see if there were any who could stand out as leaders. Let's take a closer look at them below.
What are the Army Alpha and Army Beta tests?
The Army Alpha and Army Beta tests are questionnaires that were developed for the U.S. Army during the First World War.. They were first introduced in 1917 due to the need to develop a systematic tool to assess the intelligence and emotional adjustment of soldiers.
The Alpha test evaluated, in its beginnings, verbal ability, numerical ability and the ability to follow instructions, in addition to taking into account the knowledge and information that the soldiers had before joining the ranks. These scores were useful to know if the soldiers were capable of serving their country, as well as to select them to perform their duties.These scores were useful to know if soldiers were capable of serving their country, as well as to select them to perform different functions within the army, such as platoon leaders.
The Beta test was an adaptation of the Alpha test, given that the researchers were faced with the fact that in the United States at the beginning of the last century, not everyone was literate, in addition to the fact that there was significant immigration to North America.
The Army Alpha and Army Beta were were based on the first intelligence tests, such as those of Alfred Binet.. When World War I started, the American army became aware of the need to select good soldiers to ensure victory.
The Army Alpha was created by the group of Robert Yerkes, together with his colleagues W. V. Bingham, Henry H. Goddard, T. H. Haines, Lewis Terman, G. M. Whipple, F. L. Wells. These experts in measuring psychological constructs, especially intelligence met in 1917 and began to design a standardized and rapid method for assessing the abilities of recruits.
The intention of these questionnaires was to segregate those who were mentally incompetent, in the researchers' own words, as well as to classify soldiers according to their mental abilities and select them for specialized positions.The intention of these questionnaires was to segregate those who were mentally incompetent, in the words of the researchers themselves, as well as to classify soldiers according to their mental abilities and select them for specialized positions.
When it came to administering the Army Alpha, because it could only be completed by people who had no reading problems and had a native level of English, the illiterate were separated from those who could read.
The time it took to complete the Army Alpha was approximately 40 to 50 minutes, and it was administered in a group setting, with about 100 to 200 men in a group.with about 100 to 200 men in each group.
Structure of the Army Alpha
The Army Alpha is divided into 8 tests. The recruits had to answer the tests as quickly as possible, and these consisted of arithmetic, "common sense", vocabulary, word order, number patterns, analogies and sentence completion. The following is a brief description of these tests.
1. Description of the recruits
This first test consists of checking if the recruits are able to give basic information about themselves, such as first and last name, age, place of birth, race and highest academic degree.such as first and last name, age, place of birth, race and highest academic degree.
2. Arithmetic problems
20 arithmetic problems of increasing difficulty are presented, including addition, subtraction, division and multiplication.
3. Common Sense
Questions are asked in which the students are given three alternative answers. The questions have to do with aspects related to general American culture.. An example of a question would be.
Why are pencils more widely used than pens?
This test consisted of assessing vocabulary, having to indicate whether two words are the same or the opposite of each other. For example: "dry" and "wet" opposite or synonym?
5. Word order
Very simple sentences were presented and the recruits had to indicate if, syntactically speaking, they were in the correct order. These were very basic sentences, but still, where they were in correct order, they made some sense. For example, strong lions (true, meaningful) and eat well gold silver are (false, meaningless).
6. Determining number patterns
A series of numbers is presented and the recruits must indicate which numbers would be the following.. For example: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, ... (9, 10).
The participant must complete an analogy using the words presented as alternative answers.
8. Sentence Completion
You have to complete sentences, which refer to aspects of common culture. For example:
The 1917 Army Beta is a complement to the Army Alpha, used as a non-verbal alternative. This questionnaire was used to evaluate people who were illiterate, had not received a school education, or did not know English.. This questionnaire has been considered the archetype of modern cognitive ability tests, such as the WISC and the WAIS.
This test was administered in 50 to 60 minutes, and was administered in a group setting, as in the case of the Army Alpha. Unlike the Army Alpha, the Beta was administered in smaller groups, such as 60 people, since illiterate subjects had to complete the test to ensure that everyone understood the instructions given orally by the test administrator.
The main objective of this test was to be able to evaluate those people who presented some kind of problem with respect to reading and speaking skills. Thus, despite the existence of oral and written language barriers, it was possible to evaluate skills that, in principle, did not seem to have to do with linguistic abilities and that could be useful in the battlefield..
Structure of Army Beta
The Army Beta was divided into seven tests, which we will describe very briefly below.
The participants They have to join with a line the entrance and the exit of a labyrinth that is drawn on a card that is drawn on one of the cards given to them.
On the cards they had some figures made with cubes and they had to indicate how many cubes there were.
3. X and O
The administrator draws on a blackboard an X and an O, asking the subjects to make series of the type X-O-X-O...
4. Coding numbers
There are ten symbols that are each assigned to numbers from 0 to 9. The subjects must indicate, under each symbol, to which number it corresponds..
5. Different numbers
This test measures the ability to to see if they notice the differences when given two lines full of numbers, and to see if they are the same numbers or not.and see if they are the same numbers or not.
6. Complete a drawing
They are presented with drawings of everyday objects, such as a face, a hand or a violin, which have some part blank or incomplete. The recruits must complete the figure.
7. Constructing geometric figures
Subjects are given are given cardboards that are used to make geometric figures, which are which are represented on the cards given to them.
What was the purpose of these tests?
Both questionnaires were intended not only to find out the abilities of the soldiers and thus be able to classify them according to where they could be most useful.. They were also intended to find people who had some kind of intellectual disability, who at the time were known as "feeble-minded," and thus prevent a person who simply could not perform any beneficial function for the army from ending up in the ranks.
However, the group that developed these tests were aware that getting a low score on a questionnaire was not synonymous with intellectual disability, something that was seen when they began to apply the Army Alpha and saw that people who presented normal cognitive abilities at first glance, did not perform well on the tests because they either did not understand them due to language barriers or because they did not know how to read.
Likewise, low scores on the Army Beta did not necessarily mean that the person tested had an intellectual disability either, something that the creators of the Army Beta test did not necessarily mean.The creators of the questionnaires were aware of this and, to ensure that no soldier was wasted, every effort was made to make sure that a use could be found for them.
It is worth noting that the United States at the beginning of the last century was in dire need of lives to sacrifice on the battlefield..... No person was officially reported as "feeble-minded" until he or she had undergone an extensive individual psychological interview to confirm this hypothesis.
The use of questionnaires and other intelligence tests to make important decisions about individuals has always been a highly controversial aspect of the measurement of cognitive abilities. Many psychologists who were involved in the development of the test had an overly extreme view of intelligence. too extreme a view on the inheritance of intelligence traits and other behavioral aspects of intelligence.They were also very much in favor of eugenics.
Yerkes and his colleagues, by using the Army Alpha and Army Beta on non-white or non-American people, used it as a justification against immigration and racial mixing, claiming that there were inferior ethnic groups and races, and that the excessive immigration that the United States was receiving at the time was something that could harm America's IQ. The psychologists who conducted these questionnaires, after the end of World War I, contributed to the legislation of anti-immigration laws.
In addition, there is a clear cultural bias in the Army Alpha, especially in the common culture test.. It does not measure intelligence, it measures the knowledge expected of an average white American. Dadas las diferencias entre blancos y negros en aquella época, en términos de derechos y oportunidades educativas, era de esperar que las personas de raza negra tuvieran unos rendimientos más bajos en esa prueba.
- Because they are cheaper.
Because they are not as heavy.
- Gun is to knife what shooting is to ....
- Running, cuts, hat, bird. Answer: cuts.
- America was discovered by.
- Drake, Hudson, Columbus, Balboa. Answer: Columbus.
- 2345132.....2345132 They have to mark that they are the same.
- 4765847.....4765947 They have to mark that they are different.
- Waters, B. K. (1997). Army alpha to CAT-ASVAB: Fourscore years of military personnel selection and classification testing. In R. F. Dillon (Ed.), Handbook on testing (pp. 187-203). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 262-274.
(Updated at Mar 28 / 2023)