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Problem Questions

PROCEDURE. Say to the subject: "_Listen, and see if you can understand
what I read._" Then read the following three problems, rather slowly and
with expression, pausing after each long enough for the subject to find
an answer:--

(a) "_A man who was walking in the woods near a city stopped
suddenly, very much frightened, and then ran to the nearest
policeman, saying that he had just seen hanging from the limb
of a tree a ... a what?_"
(b) "_My neighbor has been having queer visitors. First a doctor
came to his house, then a lawyer, then a minister (preacher or
priest). What do you think happened there?_"
(c) "_An Indian who had come to town for the first time in his
life saw a white man riding along the street. As the white man
rode by, the Indian said--'The white man is lazy; he walks
sitting down.' What was the white man riding on that caused
the Indian to say, 'He walks sitting down'?_"

Do not ask questions calculated to draw out the correct response, but
wait in silence for the subject's spontaneous answer. It is permissible,
however, to re-read the passage if the subject requests it.

SCORING. _Two responses out of three must be satisfactory._ The
following explanations and examples will make clear the requirements of
the test:--

(a) _What the man saw hanging_

_Satisfactory._ The only correct answer for the first is "A man
who had hung himself" (or who had committed suicide, been
hanged, etc.). We may also pass the following answer: "Dead
branches that looked like a man hanging."

A good many subjects answer simply, "A man." This answer cannot
be scored because of the impossibility of knowing what is in the
subject's mind, and in such cases it is always necessary to say:
"_Explain what you mean._" The answer to this interrogation
always enables us to score the response.

_Unsatisfactory._ There is an endless variety of failures: "A
snake," "A monkey," "A robber," or "A tramp" being the most
common. Others include such answers as "A bear," "A tiger," "A
wild cat," "A cat," "A bird," "An eagle," "A bird's nest," "A
hornet's nest," "A leaf," "A swing," "A boy in a swing," "A
basket of flowers," "An egg," "A ghost," "A white sheet,"
"Clothes," "A purse," etc.

(b) _My neighbor_

_Satisfactory._ The expected answer is "A death," "Some one has
died," etc. We must always check up this response, however, by
asking what the lawyer came for, and this must also be answered

While it is expected that the subject will understand that the
doctor came to attend a sick person, the lawyer to make his
will, and the minister to preach the funeral, there are a few
other ingenious interpretations which pass as satisfactory. For
example, "A man got hurt in an accident; the doctor came to make
him well, the lawyer to see about damages, and then he died and
the preacher came for the funeral." Or, "A man died, the lawyer
came to help the widow settle the estate and the preacher came
for the funeral." We can hardly expect the 14-year-old child to
know that it is not the custom to settle an estate until after
the funeral.

The following excellent response was given by an enlightened
young eugenist: "A marriage; the doctor came to examine them and
see if they were fit to marry, the lawyer to arrange the
marriage settlement, and the minister to marry them." The
following logical responses occurred once each: "A murder. The
doctor came to examine the body, the lawyer to get evidence, and
the preacher to preach the funeral." "An unmarried girl has
given birth to a child. The lawyer was employed to get the man
to marry her and then the preacher came to perform the wedding
ceremony." Perhaps some will consider this interpretation too
far-fetched to pass. But it is perfectly logical and,
unfortunately, represents an occurrence which is not so very

If an incorrect answer is first given and then corrected, the
correction is accepted.

_Unsatisfactory._ The failures again are quite varied, but are
most frequently due to failure to understand the lawyer's
mission. Of 66 tabulated failures, 26 are accounted for in this
way, while only 6 are due to inability to state the part played
by the minister. The most common incorrect responses are: "A
baby born" (accounting for 5 out of 66 failures); "A divorce"
(very common with the children tested by Dr. Ordahl, at Reno,
Nevada!); "A marriage"; "A divorce and a remarriage"; "A
dinner"; "An entertainment"; "Some friends came to chat," etc.
In 20 failures out of 66, marriage was incorrectly connected
with a will, a divorce, the death of a child, etc.

The following are not bad, but hardly deserve to pass: "Sickness
and trouble; the lawyer and minister came to help him out of
trouble." Or, "Somebody was sick; the lawyer wanted his money
and the minister came to see how he was." A few present a still
more logical interpretation, but so far-fetched that it is
doubtful whether they should count as passes; for example: "A
man and his wife had a fight. One got hurt and had to have the
doctor, then they had a lawyer to get them divorced, then the
minister came to marry one of them." Again, "Some one is dying
and is getting married and making his will before he dies."

(c) _What the man was riding on_

The only correct response is "Bicycle." The most common error is
_horse_ (or _donkey_), accounting for 48 out of 71 tabulated
failures. Vehicles, like _wagon_, _buggy_, _automobile_, or
_street car_, were mentioned in 14 out of 71 failures. Bizarre
replies are: "A cripple in a wheel chair"; "A person riding on
some one's back," etc.

REMARKS. The experiment is a form of the completion test. Elements of a
situation are given, out of which the entire situation is to be
constructed. This phase of intelligence has already been discussed.

While it is generally admitted that the underlying idea of this test is
good, some have criticized Binet's selection of problems. Meumann thinks
the lawyer element of the second is so unfamiliar to children as to
render that part of the test unfair. Several "armchair" critics have
mentioned the danger of nervous shock from the first problem. Bobertag
throws out the test entirely and substitutes a completion test modeled
after that of Ebbinghaus. Our own results are altogether favorable to
the test. If it is used in year XIV, Meumann's objection hardly holds,
for American children of that age do ordinarily know something about
making wills. As for the danger of shock from the first problem, we have
never once found the slightest evidence of this much-feared result. The
subject always understands that the situation depicted is hypothetical,
and so answers either in a matter-of-fact manner or with a laugh.

The bicycle problem is our own invention. Binet used the other two and
required both to be answered correctly. The test was located in year XII
of the 1908 scale, and in year XV of the 1911 revision. Goddard and
Kuhlmann retain it in the original location. The Stanford results of
1911, 1912, 1914, and 1915 agree in showing the test too difficult for
year XII, even when only two out of three correct responses are
required. If the original form of the experiment is used, it is
exceedingly difficult for year XV. As here given it fits well at
year XIV.

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