The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence)

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The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence) [Hardcover]

Arthur R. Jensen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 28, 1998 0275961036 978-0275961039 First Edition

Jensen provides a comprehensive treatment of one of the major constructs of behavioral science—general mental ability—labeled the g factor by its discoverer, Charles Spearman. The g factor is about individual differences in mental abilities. In factor analyses of any and every large and diverse collection of measures of mental abilities, however varied the content of knowledge and skills they call upon, g emerges as the largest, most general source of differences between individuals and between certain subpopulations.

Jensen fully and clearly explains the psychometric, statistical, genetic, and physiological basis of g, as well as the major theoretical challenges to the concept. For decades a key construct in differential psychology, the g factor's significance for scholars and researchers in the brain sciences as well as education, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, economics, and public policy is clearly evident in this, the most comprehensive treatment of g ever published.

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The g Factor: The Science of Mental Ability (Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence) + Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life (A Free Press Paperbacks Book)
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Editorial Reviews


It is not an easy book.... Still, it is lucid and for the most part carefully argued. Those who are inclined to disagree with Mr. Jensen will find they have quite a challenge on their hands. Yet they will be pleased to note that at certain crucial points in the logic the author is skating as fast as he can over thin ice. -- The Wall Street Journal, Jim Holt

Book Description

The most comprehensive examination of general mental ability—the g factor—ever published.

Product Details

  • Series: Human Evolution, Behavior, and Intelligence
  • Hardcover: 664 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger; First Edition edition (February 28, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0275961036
  • ISBN-13: 978-0275961039
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #447,274 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a scholar! Profound thesis, fascinating trivia July 31, 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Jensen's definitions and descriptions of his science are fascinating. g stands for General Ability. It is neither IQ nor intelligence itself. Intelligence, per Jensen, is the capacity of all animals to perceive and act upon the natural world.
The Intelligence Quotient is a statistical artifice that maps individuals' problem solving abilities into a linear scale according to a Gaussian bell-curve distribution. By definition the average IQ is 100 and the standard deviation (SD) 15. By the properties of the bell curve approximately 2/3 of the population falls within one SD of the median, that is, between 85 and 115.
However, as Jensen points out repeatedly, general ability is not a linear function. The discriminators are whether or not an individual can solve specific problems. There is no way to define a lineal relationship between two individuals if once can figure out (for instance) the lowest primo number greater than 90 and another cannot, or one can figure that context requires the word above to be "prime" not "primo" and another cannot. There is no metric for "g" itself. Rather, all tests of mental ability have a degree of "g loading." Psychometrics is the science of assessing and manipulating information about a quality that cannot be measured directly.
Jensen devotes much energy to defending the validity of "g", this thing that defies direct measurement. It is real because:
a) It is statistically "there." It is highly correlated among myriad tests.
b) It works in the real world. There is no single discriminator that approaches the value of "g", usually proxied by an IQ test score, as a predictor of educational or job performance.
c) It has equal predictive power for both sexes, all ages and all populations of mankind.
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101 of 110 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Synthesis of Current Work on IQ August 8, 1999
In a brilliant 40-year career that has earned him a place among the most frequently cited figures in contemporary psychology, Arthur Jensen has systematically researched and extended Charles Spearman's (1927) seminal concept of g, the general factor of intelligence. The g Factor is an awesome and monumental exposition of the case for the reality of g. It does not draw back from its most controversial conclusions -- that the average differences in IQ found between Blacks and Whites has a substantial hereditary component, and that this difference has important societal consequences. However, The g Factor is not about race, as such. The first five chapters deal with the intellectual history of the discovery of g and various models of how to conceptualize intelligence. Other chapters deal with the biological correlates of g (excluding race), its heritability, and its practical predictive power. The fact that psychometric g has many physical correlates proves that it is not just a methodological artifact. Among biological variables, g loads on heritability coefficients determined from twin studies and inbreeding depression scores calculated in children born from cousin-marriages. g is also related to brain size measured by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), brain evoked potentials, and intracellular brain pH levels. It (g) is a product of human evolution and is also found in non-human animals. Despite these caveats, The Bell Curve affair allows one to safely predict that The g Factor's coverage of race will strike many as of central importance. All the issues Jensen raised in 1969 are still with us today. Read more ›
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41 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book for the non-technical reader May 29, 1999
By A Customer
First, I am not a professional psychologist nor do I plan to become one. My BS is in Psychology and I have done Cognitive and Neuroscience research. This is a demanding book if you are not versed the field of psychometrics. Jensen cannot avoid having to present some of this information in a technical manner. He does, however, present the technical details of the subject in the clearest possible way. In fact this book has done much to strengthen my intrest in statistics.
The g-factor would be great reading for someone who has read some of the more popular books about human intelligence(Bell Curve, Mismeasure of Man, etc..) and is looking for a broader perspective on these issues. The highly controvesial subjects (race, environment vs. heredity, education) only account for a few parts of the book. Many of the other subjects(like world IQ increases, biological correlates, the history of g, and the politicizing of IQ) are equally facinating. Perhaps the greatest aspect of the book is Jensen's perspective on this subject. Many of his views are as fresh and creative as they are comprehensive.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book about intelligence ever written January 15, 2000
By Bob
There has been a conspiracy, of sorts, by the popular press, the news media, and other entrenched powers that be, to hide what is really known about intelligence. This book is a complete survey of all the research known about intelligence. The simplest definition of intelligence is "the ability to reason and learn". The evidence is compelling that intelligence is a real trait, it's biologically based, strongly influenced by heredity, and different racial groups have different average levels of intelligence and a big part of that difference is genetic and not based on environment.
There is nothing really "new" in this book. But it compiles together in one book all the research about intelligence. There hasn't been a comprehensive survey of this sort written in decades.
Everyone should read this book. The Bell Curve is also a book that everyone should read, but this book should be read first. The Bell Curve starts with the assumption that intelligence is genetically influenced, but most people, indoctrinated by the liberal media, don't believe that or understand it. The g Factor presents the overwhelming evidence that there is indeed a genetically influenced general factor of intelligence.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jensen says in the "Acknowledgements" section, "Especially deserving of credit for supporting much of the empirical research I have done on the g factor ... Read more
Published 20 months ago by Steven H Propp
5.0 out of 5 stars quintessence
Wonderful timing, quick and professional. I highly recommend anyone this seller. No complaints. Very quick and diligent. Read more
Published 22 months ago by natasha Gonsalez
4.0 out of 5 stars The "g" factor advances our understanding of intelligence
Jensen's treatise on defining what intelligence is must be his best. If you can get past chapter 4 with a thorough understanding of the method of correlated vectors, you're well on... Read more
Published on April 28, 2010 by Michael Chee K. Chew
5.0 out of 5 stars Book Great Condition - Swift Arrival
Book indistinguishable from new, arrived in a few days. Great service. Highly recommend
Published on October 18, 2009 by Gerald A. Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Egalitarianism's Reality Check
Americans continue to spend good money after bad to support the religious-like dogma of education egalitarianism. Read more
Published on March 1, 2009 by Scott Rogers
5.0 out of 5 stars Right side slopers will get it...
While not an "easy" read by any means, if you are on the righthand, downhill slope of the Bell Curve, then you may consider this epic report to be an indispensable classic.
Published on October 12, 2007 by In Memory of W. G. Simms
2.0 out of 5 stars 4 for the Science. 0 for Readability.
After reading "The Bell Curve" by Hernstein and Murray (H & M) I read this book to further study this issue. With 20/20 hindsight this was an error. Read more
Published on February 27, 2007 by Gaetan Lion
1.0 out of 5 stars Fence Straddler
It is very difficult to read the book G Factor without laughing out loud.

Arthur Jensen sounds so convincing and his tone so professional, that I had to pull out his 60... Read more
Published on February 14, 2007 by J. jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Intellectual Masterpiece
The Bell Curve was a book that was well written and researched. Much of the theory was based on the work of Arthur Jenson. Read more
Published on May 4, 2006 by Alan Seals
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book in differential psychology in the 1990s
Currently, it stands as the most comprehensive tome on g ever written. More than that though, it is a masterwork in the field of intelligence and individual differences. Read more
Published on December 11, 2004 by psychometric zen
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