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Otto Klineberg's Critiques of Intelligence Testing. Brazil as a Racial Laboratory

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posted on 24.03.2021, 09:31 by Marcos Chor Maio

Abstract Otto Klineberg, professor of social psychology at Columbia University, held that intelligence tests were a tool for legitimizing racial hierarchies. He conducted numerous studies of the relations between blacks, whites, Indians, and immigrant groups in the United States and Europe in which he stressed that environmental considerations trumped racial factors. Klineberg came to see Brazil as a prime setting for demonstrating that intelligence testing lacked any scientific basis. The present article has a threefold focus: three studies conducted by Klineberg between 1927 and 1935; his experiences in Brazil from 1945 to 1947 as a professor at the University of São Paulo, where he tried to investigate the relation between intelligence testing and socioeconomic conditions at schools in Rio de Janeiro; and his post-World War II work at UNESCO, when many were still arguing that intelligence tests were an appropriate way to measure so-called innate traits.

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