Giving Differences From Memory
PROCEDURE. Say: "_What is the difference between a fly and a
butterfly?_" If the child does not seem to understand, say: "_You know
flies, do you not? You have seen flies? And you know the butterflies!
Now, tell me the difference between a fly and a butterfly._" Proceed in
the same way with _stone and egg_, and _wood and glass_. A little
coaxing is sometimes necessary to secure a response, but supplementary
d suggestions of every kind are to be avoided. For example,
it would not be permissible for the examiner to say: "_Which is larger,
a fly or a butterfly?_" This would give the child his cue and he would
immediately answer, "A butterfly." The child must be left to find a
difference by himself. Sometimes a difference is given, but without any
indication as to its direction, as, for example, "One is bigger than the
other" (for fly and butterfly). It is then permissible to ask: "_Which
SCORING. Passed if a real difference is given in _two out of three
comparisons_. It is not necessary, however, that an _essential_
difference be given; the difference may be trivial, only it must be a
real one. The following are samples of satisfactory and unsatisfactory
_Fly and butterfly_
_Satisfactory._ "Butterfly is larger." "Butterfly has bigger
wings." "Fly is black and a butterfly is not." "Butterfly is
yellow (or white, etc.) and fly is black." "Fly bites you and
butterfly don't." "Butterfly has powder on its wings, fly does
not." "Fly flies straighter." "Butterfly is outdoors and a fly
is in the house." "Flies are more dangerous to our health."
"Flies haven't anything to sip honey with." "Butterfly doesn't
live as long as a fly." "Butterfly comes from a caterpillar."
Sometimes a double contrast is meant, but not fully expressed;
as, "A fly is small and a butterfly is pretty." Here the thought
is probably correct, only the language is awkward.
Of 102 correct responses, 70 were in terms of size, or size plus
color or form; 12 were in terms of both form and color; 6 in
terms of color alone; and the rest scattered among such
responses as those mentioned above.
_Unsatisfactory._ These are mostly misstatements of facts; as:
"Fly is bigger." "Fly has legs and butterfly hasn't." "Butterfly
has no feet and fly has." "Butterfly makes butter." "Fly is a
fly and a butterfly is not." Failures due to misstatement of
fact are of endless variety. If an indefinite response is given,
like "The fly is different," or "They don't look alike," we ask,
"_How is it different?_" or, "_Why don't they look alike?_" It
is satisfactory if the child then gives a correct answer.
_Stone and egg_
_Satisfactory._ "Stone is harder." "Egg is softer." "Egg breaks
easier." "Egg breaks and stone doesn't." "Stone is heavier."
"Egg is white and stone is not." "Egg has a shell and stone does
not." "Eggs have a white and a yellow in them." "You put eggs in
a pudding." "An egg is rounder than a stone." We may also accept
statements which are only qualifiedly true; as, "You can break
an egg, but not a stone." Likewise double but incomplete
comparisons are satisfactory; as, "An egg you fry and a stone
you throw," "A stone is tough and an egg you eat," etc.
A little over three fourths of the comparisons made by children
of 6, 7, and 8 years are in terms of hardness. The other
responses are widely scattered.
_Unsatisfactory._ "A stone is bigger (or smaller) than an egg."
"A stone is square and an egg is round." "An egg is yellow and a
stone is white." "Stones are red (or black, etc.) and eggs are
white." "An egg is to eat and a stone is to plant." "An egg is
round and a stone is sometimes round."
It will be noted that the above responses are partly true and
partly false. The error they contain renders them unacceptable.
Most of the failures are due to misstatements as to size, shape,
or color, but occasionally one meets a bizarre answer.
_Wood and glass_
_Satisfactory._ "Glass breaks easier than wood." "Glass breaks
and wood does not." "Wood is stronger than glass." "Glass you
can see through and wood you can't." "Glass cuts you and wood
doesn't." "You get splinters from wood and you don't from
glass." "Glass melts and wood doesn't." "Wood burns and glass
doesn't." "Wood has bark and glass hasn't." "Wood grows and
glass doesn't." "Glass is heavier than wood." "Glass glistens in
the sun and wood does not."
An incomplete double comparison is also counted satisfactory;
as, "Wood you can burn and glass you can see through."
_Unsatisfactory._ "Wood is black and glass is white." (Color
differences are always unsatisfactory in this comparison unless
transparency is also mentioned.) "Glass is square and wood is
round." "Glass is bigger than wood" (or _vice versa_). "Wood is
oblong and glass is square." "Glass is thin and wood is thick."
"Wood is made out of trees and glass out of windows." "There is
no glass in wood."
The two most frequent types of failures are misstatements
regarding color and thickness. The other failures are widely
REMARKS. The test is one which all the critics agree in commending,
largely because it is so little influenced by ordinary school
experience. Its excellence lies mainly, however, in the fact that it
throws light upon the character of the child's higher thought processes,
for thinking means essentially the association of ideas on the basis of
differences or similarities. Nearly all thought processes, from the most
complex to the very simplest, involve to a greater or less degree one or
the other of these two types of association. They are involved in the
simple judgments made by children, in the appreciation of puns, in
mechanical inventions, in the creation of poetry, in the scientific
classification of natural phenomena, and in the origination of the
hypotheses of science or philosophy.
The ability to note differences precedes somewhat the ability to note
resemblances, though the contrary has sometimes been asserted by
logician-psychologists. The difficulty of the test is greatly increased
by the fact that the objects to be compared are not present to the
senses, which means that the free ideas must be called up for comparison
and contrast. Failure may result either from weakness in the power of
ideational representation of objects, or from the inadequacy of the
associations themselves, or from both. Probably both factors are usually
Intellectual development is especially evident in increased ability to
note _essential_ differences and likenesses, as contrasted with those
which are trivial, superficial, and accidental. To distinguish an egg
from a stone on the basis of one being organic, the other inorganic
matter requires far higher intelligence than to distinguish them on the
basis of shape, color, fragibility, etc. It is not till well toward the
adult stage that the ability to give very essential likenesses and
differences becomes prominent, and when we get a comparison of this type
from a child of 7 or 8 years it is a very favorable sign.
It would be well worth while to standardize a new test of this kind for
use in the upper years and especially adapted to display the ability to
give essential likenesses and differences. At year VII we must accept as
satisfactory any real difference.
One point remains. In the tests of giving differences and similarities,
it is well to make note of any tendency to _stereotypy_, by which is
meant the mechanical reappearance of the same idea, or element, in
successive responses. For example, the child begins by comparing fly and
butterfly on the basis of size; as, "A butterfly is bigger than a fly."
So far, this is quite satisfactory; but the child with a tendency to
stereotypy finds himself unable to get away from the dominating idea of
size and continues to make it the basis of the other comparisons: "A
stone is larger than an egg," "Wood is larger than glass," etc. In case
of stereotypy in all three responses, we should have to score the total
response failure even though the idea employed happened to fit all three
parts of the question. As a rule it is encountered only with very young
children or with older children who are mentally retarded. It is
therefore an unfavorable sign.
Although this test has been universally used in year VIII, all the
available statistics, with the exception of Bobertag's and Bloch's,
indicate that it is decidedly too easy for that year. Binet himself says
that nearly all 7-year-olds pass it. Goddard finds 97 per cent passing
at year VIII, and Dougherty 90 per cent at year VI. With the standard of
scoring given in the present revision, and with the substitution of
_stone and egg_ instead of the more difficult _paper and cloth_, the
test is unquestionably easy enough for year VII.