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J Gen Psychol. 1994 Jan;121(1):27-36.

Spearman's hypothesis and test score differences between whites, Indians, and blacks in South Africa.

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  • 1Psychology Department, University of Ulster, Coleraine County Londonberry BT52 1SA, Northern Ireland.


Numerous studies in the United States have shown that mean test scores between Blacks and Whites differ by about one standard deviation. It has further been noted that the magnitudes of these differences vary on different tests. This variation can be explained by Spearman's hypothesis, which states that Black-White differences on a set of cognitive tests are positively associated with the tests' g loadings (the general intellectual ability). The present study, conducted among Black, Indian, and White secondary students in South Africa, showed mean Black-White differences of two standard deviations, indicating that the American results of one standard deviation are not universally correct. With regard to Spearman's hypothesis, it was found that, although the mean White-Indian differences were about one standard deviation, these differences did not support the hypothesis. Results pertaining to the Black-White differences were ambiguous; the correlation of .62 (p < .05) between the Black g and the Black-White differences strongly supported the hypothesis. A nonsignificant correlation of .23 was obtained between the White g and the Black-White differences. Possible reasons for this finding are discussed.

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