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versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027


CORTADA DE KOHAN, Nuria. A possibility of integration cognitive theory and modern psychometric. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2005, vol.22, n.1, pp.29-58. ISSN 1668-7027.

The interest of man for himself could be traced in the words at the Delphos Temple in Greece "gnwsi se auton". But in Classic Greece (Plato and Aristotle), as well as in the Middle Age (Saint Thomas), the man was seen as a compound of body and soul in the context of onthology and methaphysics. Only in the Renaissance Luis Vives (1538-1947) said “that it does not matter much what is the soul. Instead what it matters to us is to know how it works”. In the Renaissance the knowledge of the world gave birth to the natural sciences and also more value was given to the person and its subjectivity. Scientific psychology starts, as everybody knows, at the Wundt Laboratory in Leipzig in 1879 as an experimental science with Herbart, Weber, Ebbinhaus, Fechner and some others. There are two trends in scientific psychology: cognitive psychology and psychometrics. The interest of psychologists for the study of the mind started around 1950; this concept was rejected by behaviorists. Cognitive psychology tries to find out in detail the mental processes that are used by man. However, cognitive psychology, as behaviorism, studies psychological constructs through observable behavior using experimental designs, establishing good control of the variables and using mathematical models such as multivariate analysis, exponential functions, statistical analysis for the verification of hypothesis, and so on. There are many fields studied by cognitive psychologists, sometimes using different ways to explain the same phenomena. For instance, the language and its evolution is analyzed in very different contexts by Chomsky, Piaget, Vygotsky and Brunner, but all of them are considered cognitivists. Cognitive Psychology may be defined as an objective science of the mind understood as a system of knowledge (Rivière, 1991). Sometimes in a restricted sense the metaphor of mind-computer is used. Contributions to this point of view were made by Boole (1815-1854) with the Mathematical Analysis of Logic, by Turing with his calculator machine, by Shannon, from the MIT, by means of reducing uncertainty with binary logic and measuring information, by Wiener (1894-1964) with the concept of cybernetics and the use made by McCullock and Pitts of the concept of feedback in analogy with the neuronal functioning. The nervous system could be understood as a computer system. The human being as the computer, receives information, manipulates and memorizes symbols, memorizes them, and recognizes forms, in fact it processes information (Neiser, 1976). At this point the dualism mind-brain disappears. From now on, the mind is to the brain as the software is to the hardware. In 1960, Miller and Brunner organized the Center for Cognitive Studies at Harvard. It is impossible to consider all the advances of cognitive psychology. I would like only to point out, as an example, the problems studied by Kahneman (Nobel Prize in Economics, 2002). He studied mainly psychological decision problems and the risk biases using the concepts of risk aversion and the prospect theory. He, together with the late Tversky, demonstrated that intuitive prediction of probability judgements of people do not follow the mathematical probability laws, but showed many biases. These theories have great importance in everyday life. Theory of tests: Psychometrics has contributed strongly to the mathematization of psychology specially through the great impact of the works of Spearman, Thurstone, Guilford, Cattell, Gulliksen and others. Most of the advances in tests theory come from the use of ANOVA, MANOVA, and factorial analysis to construct more reliable and valid tests. Today, besides the so called classic theory which is a regression model, we have the generalizability model which uses the concept of facets, and lately through the works of Rasch, Birnbaum, Lord, Hambleton, and others, we have the Item Response Theory (IRT model), a probabilistic model that offers the possibility to know the level of information of each item of a test and to create tests according to what is necessary for different circumstances. Need of integration of the two scientific trends: Some researchers see now the need to stress the knowledge through the tests of the cognitive processes and not to evaluate only the final outcome of the process, as it happens in most tests. There exist already some commercial tests with this aim in view, such as the Kaufmann and the Woodcock tests. Besides, there is a new trend in tests construction to consider psychometric tests as cognitive tasks and to use different multicomponent response models (Bejar, 1993; Embretson, 1993; Fischer, 1995). These are the consequences of the significant impact cognitive theory has made on the theories of abilities and intelligence. Cognitive tasks are viewed as requiring multiple stages, strategies, and knowledge store. Both tasks and persons vary on the processing components. Of course this new research requires sophisticated software. In Argentina this impact has been seen in the pioneering studies work of Rimoldi related to test construction, but also in the efforts of López Alonso, Roselli, Richaud de Minzi, Cortada de Kohan, and others.

Palabras clave : Cognitive psychology; Test theory; Integration; New psychometric models.

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