Differences Between Abstract Terms

PROCEDURE. Say: _What is the difference between_:--

(a) _Laziness and idleness?_

(b) _Evolution and revolution?_

(c) _Poverty and misery?_

(d) _Character and reputation?_

SCORING. _Three correct contrasting definitions out of four_ are

necessary for a pass. It is not sufficient merely to give a correct

meaning for each word of a pair; the subject must point out a differe

between the two words so as to make a real contrast. For example, if the

subject defines _evolution_ as a "growth" or "gradual change," and

_revolution_ as the turning of a wheel on its axis, the experimenter

should say: "_Yes, but I want you to tell me the difference between

evolution and revolution._" If the contrast is not then forthcoming the

response is marked _minus_.

The following are sample definitions which may be considered


(a) _Laziness and idleness._ "It is laziness if you won't

work, and idleness if you are willing to work but haven't any

job." "Lots of men are idle who are not lazy and would like to

work if they had something to do." "Laziness means you don't

want to work; idleness means you are not doing anything just

now." "Idle people may be lazy, or they may just happen to be

out of a job." "It is laziness when you don't like to work, and

idleness when you are not working." "An idle person might be

willing to work; a lazy man won't work." "Laziness comes from

within; idleness may be forced upon one." "Laziness is aversion

to activity; idleness is simply the state of inactivity."

"Laziness is idleness from choice or preference; idleness means

doing nothing."

The essential contrast, accordingly, is that _laziness refers to

unwillingness to work; idleness to the mere fact of inactivity_.

This contrast must be expressed, however clumsily.

(b) _Evolution and revolution._ "Evolution is a gradual

change; revolution is a sudden change." "Evolution is natural

development; revolution is sudden upheaval." "Evolution means an

unfolding or development; revolution means a complete upsetting

of everything." "Evolution is the gradual development of a

country or government; revolution is a quick change of

government." "Evolution takes place by natural force; a

revolution is caused by an outside force." "Evolution is growth;

revolution is a quick change from existing conditions."

"Evolution is a natural change; revolution is a violent

change." "Evolution is growth step by step; revolution is more

sudden and radical in its action." "Evolution is a change

brought about by peaceful development, while revolution is

brought about by an uprising."

The essential distinction, accordingly, is that _evolution means

a gradual, natural, or slow change, while revolution means a

sudden, forced, or violent change_. Non-contrasting definitions,

even when the individual terms are defined correctly, are not


(c) _Poverty and misery._ "Poverty is when you are poor;

misery means suffering." "Only the poor are in poverty, but

everybody can be miserable." "Poverty is the lowest stage of

poorness; misery means pain." "The poor are not always

miserable, and the rich are miserable sometimes." "Poverty means

to be in want; misery comes from any kind of suffering or

anguish." "The poor are in poverty; the sick are in misery."

"Poverty is the condition of being very poor financially; misery

is a feeling which any class of people can have." "One who is

poor is in poverty; one who is wretched or doesn't enjoy life is

in misery." "Poverty comes from lack of money; misery, from lack

of happiness or comfort." "Misery means distress. It can come

from poverty or many other things."

(d) _Character and reputation._ "Character is what you are;

reputation is what people say about you." "You have character if

you are honest; but you might be honest and still have a bad

reputation among people who misjudge you." "Character is your

real self; reputation is the opinion people have about you."

"Your character depends upon yourself; reputation depends on

what others think of you." "Character means your real morals;

reputation is the way you are known in the world." "A man has a

good character if he would not do evil; but a man may have a

good reputation and still have a bad character."

A little practice and a good deal of discrimination are necessary for

the correct grading of responses to this test. Subjects are often so

clumsy in expression that their responses are anything but clear. It is

then necessary to ask them to explain what they mean. Further

questioning, however, is not permissible. For uniformity in scoring it

is necessary to bear in mind that the definitions given must, in order

to be satisfactory, express the essential distinction between the two


REMARKS. What we have said regarding the psychological significance of

test 2, year XII, applies equally well here. The test on the whole is a

valuable one. Our statistics show that it is not, as some critics have

thought, mainly a test of schooling.

The main criticism to be made is that it imposes a somewhat difficult

task upon the power of language expression. For this reason it is

necessary in scoring to disregard clumsiness of expression and to look

only to the essential correctness or incorrectness of the thought.

This test first appeared in year XIII of Binet's 1908 scale. The terms

used were "happiness and honor"; "evolution and revolution"; "event and

advent"; "poverty and misery"; "pride and pretension." In the 1911

revision, "happiness and honor" and "pride and pretension" were dropped,

and the other three pairs were moved up to the adult group, two out of

three successes being required for a pass. Kuhlmann places it in

year XV, using "happiness and honor" instead of our "character and

reputation," and requires three successes out of five.