The Raven Matrices is considered by some as a rough measure of intelligence. Indeed, even Indian students applying to German university have to compulsirly write a test involving this concept to have their certificates verified. In trying these questions, the opinion I formed of these questions were that they are pure non sense.

To explain why I think so, consider this situation: I have a bag filled with some objects stickered with numbers from 1 to 10. These objects may or maynot have anything to do with each other. If I were to, say, give you the objects corresponding to label 1-3, that doesn't mean you can deduce anything about what the other type of objects should be there in the bag. In essence, I believe there is a large degree of unterdetermination.

Nonetheless, I am pretty sure there is some kind of point in this. Otherwise, it wouldn't be so highly regarded. Could someone englithen me on the same?

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    $\begingroup$ Note that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks of it. As I mentioned in my response to another question: "From the point of view of the developer of a psychometric test, what a subject might think of a question, how they interpret (or misinterpret) it, or what ambiguity it contains, is not as important as whether or not answers to the question contribute to the validity (especially predictive validity) of the test." IQ tests are highly predictive, so even if correct answers rely on detecting highly underdetermined patterns, they work. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Commented Dec 30, 2022 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


Your question is about what is called validity: the idea that a measure actually measures the thing it purports to measure.

Your explanation seems limited to a particular type of validity called face validity: that something appears to measure the thing it purports to measure, on its face/"just by looking at it".

Importantly, face validity doesn't necessarily mean a test is valid in other senses - measures might seem like they work but actually don't. Similarly, a lack of face validity doesn't mean a test does not have a different form of validity.

Measuring intelligence is very difficult, perhaps impossible given there is no need for agreement on what "intelligence" measures. Generally, though, the validity of intelligence measures is assessed by how well they correlate with other intelligence measures, and how well they correlate with longer-term outcomes: academic achievement, high-wage employment, etc. The value of a test like Raven's Matrices is that it's fairly quick and easy to administer; it's also non-verbal, so it can be used by people with different language backgrounds, and doesn't require a lot of specific domain knowledge so is appropriate across age and background. The downside of any one intelligence test is that they typically measure only a slice of what could be considered intelligence, so results should be interpreted carefully, and consideration should be given to whether the test is valid for the specific purpose it is used, rather than valid more generally.

There are lots of papers on the validity of Raven's Matrices in various contexts.

Additionally, for your specific example:

I have a bag filled with some objects stickered with numbers from 1 to 10. These objects may or may not have anything to do with each other. If I were to, say, give you the objects corresponding to label 1-3

This is not an item in Raven's Matrices, so it should not be used to critique that test, even on face validity grounds.

  • $\begingroup$ the point was an arguement against the sequence tests. It could be that any of the optiosn could be write and multipile patterns fit. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 7:56
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    $\begingroup$ @TrystwithFreedom There's more thought than that put into the items, though. See the "straw man fallacy". Also as Arnon explained in a comment above, it doesn't necessarily matter - if "more intelligent people", by some other measure, pick the pattern that the test maker intended, then the test works. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Dec 31, 2022 at 16:38

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