Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Consideration of cultural appropriateness in using Westem-European standardized intelligence measures with Native Americans for clinical and educational purposes has been neglected by professionals in the field of clinical assessment. Some studies suggest the possibility of a “Native American Pattern” on such tests, indicating a consistent, yet little-understood discrepancy. The present study investigated the impact of cultural identification of Native American college students on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Third Edition (WAIS-III). The study assessed the relationship between cultural identification and cognitive-testing scores between two groups of Native American college students. The first group consisted of off-reservation Native American students attending the University of North Dakota (UND). The second group consisted of Native American students attending an on-reservation tribal college, Oglala Lakota College (OLC). The Northern Plains Bicuituralism Inventory (NPBI) (Allen & French, 1993) was employed to measure cultural orientation and the WAIS-III provided scores indicative of intellectual functioning.

Many important factors, including heredity, socioeconomic background, and historical background play important roles in determining an individual's intelligence level. Due to skepticism and suspicion, historical factors, and a lifestyle and world-view that varies a great deal from that of European-Americans, intelligence test performance can also differ between Native Americans and European-Americans. The degree to which these factors actually impact Native American intelligence is not well understood by psychologists. This study provided some important clues to understanding the relationship between cultural orientation and measured intelligence.

It was predicted that the Traditional sample (i.e., as assessed by the NPBI) compared to the Assimilated sample, would display different patterns on the WAIS-I1I. Results showed that the Traditional group scored higher on Verbal IQ and the Assimilated group scored higher on Performance IQ. This was possibly due to the fact that the UND group scored higher on Verbal IQ and also identified themselves as more Traditional then the Oglala College group, which scored lower on Verbal IQ. The overall sample scored higher on Performance IQ than Verbal IQ as predicted, which possibly supports a unique patterning difference. Also, when comparing the UND and OLC groups, the UND group scored significantly higher on Verbal IQ and Full Scale IQ.

An important limitation to this study was that subjects were in college; therefore, the results may not generalize to real world settings. It will be important for future research to examine the effects of Biculturalism on IQ performance in an environment that may be more generalizable. More research needs to be conducted to learn how Biculturalism can impact IQ performance on assessment measures.

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