Giving Similarities Three Things

PROCEDURE. The procedure is the same as in VIII, 4, but with the

following words:--

(a) _Snake_, _cow_, _sparrow_.

(b) _Book_, _teacher_, _newspaper_.

(c) _Wool_, _cotton_, _leather_.

(d) _Knife-blade_, _penny_, _piece of wire_.

(e) _Rose_, _potato_, _tree_.

As before, a little tactful urging is occasionally necessary in order to

secure a response.
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SCORING. _Three satisfactory responses out of five_ are necessary for

success. Any real similarity is acceptable, whether fundamental or

superficial, although the giving of fundamental likenesses is especially

symptomatic of good intelligence.

Failures may be classified under four heads: (1) Leaving one of the

words out of consideration; (2) giving a difference instead of a

similarity; (3) giving a similarity that is not real or that is too

bizarre or far-fetched; and (4) inability to respond. Types (1), (3),

and (4) are almost equally numerous, while type (2) is not often

encountered at this level of intelligence.

This test provokes doubtful responses somewhat oftener than the earlier

test of giving similarities. Those giving greatest difficulty are the

indefinite statements like "All are useful," "All are made of the same

material," etc. Fortunately, in most of these cases an additional

question is sufficient to determine whether the subject has in mind a

real similarity. Questions suitable for this purpose are: "Explain what

you mean," "In what respect are they all useful?" "What material do

you mean?" etc. Of course it is only permissible to make use of

supplementary questions of this kind when they are necessary in order to

clarify a response which has already been made.

While the amateur examiner is likely to have more or less trouble in

deciding upon scores, this difficulty rapidly disappears with

experience. The following samples of satisfactory and unsatisfactory

responses will serve as a fairly adequate guide in dealing with doubtful


(a) _Snake_, _cow_, _sparrow_

_Satisfactory._ "All are animals" (or creatures, etc.). "All

live on the land." "All have blood" (or flesh, bones, eyes,

skin, etc.). "All move about." "All breathe air." "All are

useful" (_plus_ only if subject can give a use which they have

in common). "All have a little intelligence" (or sense,

instinct, etc.).

_Unsatisfactory._ "All have legs." "All are dangerous." "All

feed on grain" (or grass, etc.). "All are much afraid of man."

"All frighten you." "All are warm-blooded." "All get about the

same way." "All walk on the ground." "All can bite." "All

holler." "All drink water." "A snake crawls, a cow walks, and a

sparrow flies" (or some other difference). "They are not alike."

(b) _Book_, _teacher_, _newspaper_

_Satisfactory._ "All teach." "You learn from all." "All give you

information." "All help you get an education." "All are your

good friends" (_plus_ if subject can explain how). "All are

useful" (_plus_ if subject can explain how).

_Unsatisfactory._ "All tell you the news." "A teacher writes,

and a book and newspaper have writing." "They are not alike."

"All read." "All use the alphabet."

(c) _Wool_, _cotton_, _leather_

_Satisfactory._ "All used for clothing." "We wear them all."

"All grow" (_plus_ if subject can explain). "All have to be sent

to the factory to be made into things." "All are useful" (_plus_

if subject can give a use which all have in common). "All are

valuable" (_plus_ if explained).

_Unsatisfactory._ "All come from plants." "All grow on animals."

"All came off the top of something." "All are things." "They are

pretty." "All spell alike." "All are furry" (or soft, hard,


(d) _Knife-blade_, _penny_, _piece of wire_

_Satisfactory_. "All are made from minerals" (or metals). "All

come from mines." "All are hard material."

_Unsatisfactory._ "All are made of steel" (or copper, iron,

etc.). "All are made of the same metal." "All cut." "All bend

easily." "All are used in building a house." "All are

worthless." "All are useful in fixing things." "All have an

end." "They are small." "All weigh the same." "Can get them all

at a hardware store." "You can buy things with all of them."

"You buy them with money." "One is sharp, one is round, and one

is long" (or some other difference).

Such answers as "All are found in a boy's pocket," or "Boys like

them," are not altogether bad, but hardly deserve to be called

satisfactory. "All are useful" is _minus_ unless the subject can

give a use which they have in common, which in this case he is

not likely to do. Bizarre uses are also _minus_; as, "All are

good for a watch fob," "Can use all for paper weights," etc.

(e) _Rose_, _potato_, _tree_

_Satisfactory._ "All are plants." "All grow from the ground."

"All have leaves" (or roots, etc.). "All have to be planted."

"All are parts of nature." "All have colors."

_Unsatisfactory._ "All are pretty." "All bear fruit." "All have

pretty flowers." "All grow on bushes." "All are valuable" (or

useful). "They grow close to a house." "All are ornamental."

"All are shrubbery."

REMARKS. The words of each series lend themselves readily to

classification into a next higher class. This is the best type of

response, but with most of the series it accounts for less than two

thirds of the successes among subjects of 12-year intelligence. The

proportion is less than one third for subjects of 10-year intelligence

and nearly three fourths at the 14-year level. It would be possible and

very desirable to devise and standardize an additional test of this

kind, but requiring the giving of an essential resemblance or

classificatory similarity.

For discussion of the psychological factors involved in the similarities

test, see VII, 5.