Superior Adult 6: Ingenuity Test

PROCEDURE. Problem _a_ is stated as follows:--

_A mother sent her boy to the river and told him to bring back

exactly 7 pints of water. She gave him a 3-pint vessel and a

5-pint vessel. Show me how the boy can measure out exactly

7 pints of water, using nothing but these two vessels and not

guessing at the amount. You should begin by filling the 5-pint

vessel first. Remember, you h
ve a 3-pint vessel and a 5-pint

vessel and you must bring back exactly 7 pints._

The problem is given orally, but may be repeated if necessary.

The subject is not allowed pencil or paper and is requested to give his

solution orally as he works it out. It is then possible to make a

complete record of the method employed.

The subject is likely to resort to some such method as to "fill the

3-pint vessel two thirds full," or, "I would mark the inside of the

5-pint vessel so as to show where 4 pints come to," etc. We inform the

subject that such a method is not allowable; that this would be

guessing, since he could not be sure when the 3-pint vessel was two

thirds full (or whether he had marked off his 5-pint vessel accurately).

Tell him he must _measure_ out the water without any guesswork. Explain

also, that it is a fair problem, not a "catch."

Say nothing about pouring from one vessel to another, but if the subject

asks whether this is permissible the answer is "yes."

The time limit for each problem is 5 minutes. If the subject fails on

the first problem, we explain the solution in full and then proceed to

the next.

The second problem is like the first, except that a 5-pint vessel and a

7-pint vessel are given, to get 8 pints, the subject being told to begin

by filling the 5-pint vessel.

In the third problem 4 and 9 are given, to get 7, the instruction being

to "begin by filling the 4-pint vessel."

Note that in each problem we instruct the subject how to begin. This is

necessary in order to secure uniformity of conditions. It is possible to

solve all of the problems by beginning with either of the two vessels,

but the solution is made very much more difficult if we begin in the

direction opposite from that recommended.

Give no further aid. It is necessary to refrain from comment of every


SCORING. _Two of the three_ problems must be solved correctly within the

5 minutes allotted to each.

REMARKS. We have called this a test of ingenuity. The subject who is

given the problem finds himself involved in a difficulty from which he

must extricate himself. Means must be found to overcome an obstacle.

This requires practical judgement and a certain amount of inventive

ingenuity. Various possibilities must be explored and either accepted

for trial or rejected. If the amount of invention called for seems to

the reader inconsiderable, let it be remembered that the important

inventions of history have not as a rule had a Minerva birth, but

instead have developed by successive stages, each involving but a small

step in advance.

It is unnecessary to emphasize at length the function of invention in

the higher thought processes. In one form or another it is present in

all intellectual activity; in the creation and use of language, in art,

in social adjustments, in religion, and in philosophy, as truly as in

the domains of science and practical affairs. Certainly this is true if

we accept Mason's broad definition of invention as including "every

change in human activity made designedly and systematically." From

the psychological point of view, perhaps, Mason is justified in looking

upon the great inventor as "an epitome of the genius of the world." To

develop a Krag-Joergensen from a bow and arrow, a "velvet-tipped"

lucifer match from the primitive fire-stick, or a modern piano from the

first crude, stringed, musical instrument has involved much the same

intellectual processes as have been operative in transforming fetishism

and magic into religion and philosophy, or scattered fragments of

knowledge into science.

Psychologically, invention depends upon the constructive imagination;

that is, upon the ability to abstract from what is immediately present

to the senses and to picture new situations with their possibilities and

consequences. Images are united in order to form new combinations.

As we have several times emphasized, the decisive intellectual

differences among human beings are not greatly dependent upon mere sense

discrimination or native retentiveness. Far more important than the raw

mass of sense data is the correct shooting together of the sense

elements in memory and imagination. This is but another name for

invention. It is the synthetic, or apperceptive, activity of the mind

that gives the "seven-league boots" to genius. It is, however, a kind of

ability which is possessed by all minds to a greater or less degree. Any

test has its value which gives a clue, as this test does, to the

subject's ability in this direction.

The test was devised by the writer and used in 1905 in a study of the

intellectual processes of bright and dull boys, but it was not at that

time standardized. It has been found to belong at a much higher mental

level than was at first supposed. Only an insignificant number pass the

test below the mental age of 14 years, and about two thirds of "average

adults" fail. Of our "superior adults" somewhat more than 75 per cent

succeed. Formal education influences the test little or not at all, the

unschooled business men making a somewhat better showing than the

high-school students.