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 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