A cross-cultural multigroup study of the nonintellective correlates of cognitive ability in adolescents

Ban Eng Goh, Purdue University


This study is designed to identify personality and familial variables related to cognitive ability and academic achievement for two cultures, two sexes, and three ability levels. A total of 528 adolescents, 297 from Singapore and 231 from Indiana, U.S. were administered the Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices and the California Psychological Inventory. Demographic and familial background data were obtained through a questionnaire. The statistical procedures employed in the study included simple descriptive analysis, correlational analysis, factor analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, and multiple linear regression analysis.^ Multivariate statistical analyses revealed important differences in the personality and familial background of the Singaporean and American adolescents. Differences in personality profiles tend to fall along stereotypical lines with the Singaporean students being more conforming, and self-controlled and the American students being more outgoing, assertive, and independent. Although the males in both cultures possessed higher intellectual ability and independence, the females were more well-adjusted and more efficient in achievement functioning than males. Within the Singapore sample, the females possessed more expressive characteristics such as empathy and the males more instrumental characteristics such as independence. The American students did not exhibit as many gender differences in personality characteristics as the Singaporean students. Personality variables that significantly differentiate students of high, average, and low ability levels were those associated with intellectual efficiency and achievement orientation.^ In terms of familial profiles, parents of American students had higher levels of education than Singaporean students. As a whole, although parents of males did not differ significantly from those of females in educational levels, parents of high ability students were more highly educated than parents of average and low ability students.^ From the multiple linear regression analyses, academic achievement was found to be highly related to intellectual ability. Personality variables such as communality, good impression, and socialization, and familial variables such as parents' educational levels, birth order, and sibship size were also significant contributors to academic achievement in varying degrees depending on culture, sex, and ability level.^ These findings have important educational implications for teachers faced with the task of helping their students realize their full potential and achieve academic excellence. ^




John F. Feldhusen, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Education, Bilingual and Multicultural|Education, Educational Psychology

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