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Wechsler Series of Intelligence Tests

1939 Bellvue  Scale

David Wechsler ( was the originator of a robust series of intelligence tests and affiliated measures. These are generally considered to be among the best of all psychological measures, in terms of their reliability, validity and test construction. They serve as the standard against which other measures are compared.

Wechsler was the Chief Psychologist at Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Medical Psychology at New York University College of Medicine, and a Lecturer, School of Education, New York University. He dedicated his book "to Freda."

In 1939 he introduced the first of his measures, trying to correct some of the shortcomings of the 1937 Stanford-Binet scale, which did not measure adult intelligence satisfactorily. This is the title page of that first test. (The cover of the manual was plain). Today, test manuals are primarily devoted to explaining administration and psychometric concerns. This book, however, first presented his theory of intelligence in detail and then covered the administration and interpretation of the test. According to Wechsler, "Intelligence is the aggregate or global capacity of the indivdiual

He called the test "the Bellvue Intelligence Scales" although it is known now as the Wechsler-Bellvue. The original test included an Adolescent Scale for ages 10 to 16 (simply a separate standardization sample on the same subtests).

Curiously, the Vocabulary subtest was initially included as only an alternate or supplemental test. It is now one of the subtests routinely administered and is recognized as one of the best of the subtests in terms of correlating with the overall IQ score.

The advent of World War II presented some difficulties for the Vocabulary test. It included the words nitroglycerine, espionage, and hara-kari. With the war reports, these words changed in difficulty level and were omitted on subsequent editions.

In 1955 the Bellvue was revised and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales were introduced. 1955 WAIS cover 1955 WAIS title page

Followed in 1981 by another revision (see below). David Wechsler died that year.

The tabs are to help the examiner locate directions for the individual subtests.

1981 WAIS cover

In 1997 the test was revised by David Tulsky & Jianjun Zhu for Psychological Corporation (see below). The 1997 manual cover, when open for reading, folds back into a self-contained bookstand. Thus you see a fold in the manual image below.

This test was accompanied by a greatly needed update of the Wechsler Memory Scales. These are tests of memory, often used in evaluating neurological dysfunction.

At this point in time revisions of such important measures come with multiple manuals. Not shown are the books providing psychometric information for the tests. Notice too how the manuals are becoming "showier." That reflects the shift from development by an academic for an academic audience to development as part of a business cycle.

1997 WAIS III 1997 WMS III

For information about the Wechsler tests for children, follow this link (wechslrc.htm).

For answers to Frequently Asked Questions, check here (testfaq.htm)

Psychology Whimsies

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Website created: June 1996. Page Created: March, 1999. Last Modified: August 21, 1999.