The Stories behind the Stanford Binet And WAIS Intelligence Test

The Stories behind the Stanford Binet And WAIS Intelligence Test

Written by Deepak Bhagat, In Education, Published On
October 25, 2022

Human intelligence has fascinated the scientific community and the rest of the world for generations, and a lof effort has been put into understanding it. Two tests that are used to test human intelligence are the Stanford Binet and the Wechsler Adult intelligence Scale. Although both tests seek to grade intellect in humans, they have certain differences. Understanding their differences helps researchers and participants choose the two ideal for them. This article reviews both tests before addressing their main differences so you’ll be better informed.

The Stories behind the Stanford Binet And WAIS Intelligence Test

  • Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

The Wechsler Adult intelligence Scale, also known as WAIS, is an intelligence test developed in 1955 to measure the level of intelligence in older adolescents and adults. The test was designed by a psychologist called David Wechsler, who believed that intelligence was influenced by multiple factors and abilities rather than only one factor.

Secondly, he was dissatisfied with the limitations of the Stanford Binet test, which was popular at the time. One of his main criticisms of the Stanford Binet approach to intelligence evaluation was that the tests were timed and suited only children, not necessarily ideal for adults. So to counter his perceived limitations of the test, he created a new test in the 1930s, which he called the Wechsler Bellevue Intelligence Scale, and after a few years, he revised it and named it WAIS. David Wechsler’s test was designed to test intelligence in adults, not children.

  • Stanford Binet Test

The Stanford Binet test was already in use before David Wechsler developed his test and was regarded as the standard test for intelligence at the time. According to Alfred Binet, the developer of the test, five factors can be used to gauge intelligence: fluid reasoning, quantitative reasoning, knowledge, working memory, and visual-spatial processing. The test also measured nonverbal and verbal responses in participants. Furthermore, each factor was assigned a given score, and scores for all five were combined to produce an overall IQ score.

The origin of the Stanford Binet test can be traced to the Binet-Simon Scale, a French devised for evaluating intelligence levels. The scale was designed by Alfred Binet, and a student of his named Theodore Simon. At the time, education laws in France were flawed – as per modern standards – so the government approached Alfred Binet to develop a device that could be used to detect a child that had below-average intelligence for their age.

Their design was successful and became a standardized measure for testing the academic abilities of children. Over the last 100 years, it has undergone revisions and has been made more accurate. It was very effective in identifying children with cognitive disabilities and those with high IQs.

  • Difference Between WAIS and Stanford Binet

Albert Binet was regarded as the first intelligence test developer who believed that human Intellect was far too complicated to be evaluated based on a single factor, an opinion also shared by David Wechsler. But there are several differences between the two.

While the Alfred Binet test evaluates intelligence in children, the WAIS test is suited for adults and older adolescents. Stanford Binet is used to identifying children who require specialized help to do well academically and stresses the importance of using motivation to boost a child’s academic performance.

WAIS, on the other hand, was developed to address the flaws of the Stanford Binet test.

Let’s review their fundamental differences in detail below.

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale

  • Addresses Weaknesses

This test builds on the success of Stanford Binet and seeks to improve accuracy by eradicating its flaws.

  • For Adults

It is designed specifically for adults, not children, and contains a few times subtests, unlike Binet tests that are all timed. Binet tests were also criticized for not being accurate to measure adult intelligence.

  • Different Scores

All tests under WAIS have different score numbers that are combined at the end to give an all-round score.

Stanford Binet Test

  • For Children Only

The test is designed for children only in elementary school to identify those with a learning disability.

  • Timed Tests

All tests are timed, which is limiting in research.

  • Single Generic Score

Although advocates believe that intelligence is influenced by several factors, the test only produces a single score to evaluate the child’s IQ.


While Stanford Binet seeks to expose the flaws in a participant’s intellect, WAIS provides a profile to rate their overall weakness and strength. WAIS also provides useful insight to help educators understand why a child may score so well in some tests and poorly in others, and the information can help them develop new approaches to dispense knowledge.

Stanford Binet derived scores by dividing chronological age by mental age, while WAIS takes a different approach, with the average score fixed at 100 and the highest score fixed at 115. Adults who scored between 85-100 were classed as average, while those who scored above that were classed as high-IQ individuals

Today, many other tests adopt the WAIS approach because of its efficiency.

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