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7 free cognitive tests to flex your mental muscle
Do you think you know who you are? After taking these 7 tests, you'll have a much greater understanding of your own noggin.
Out of everybody on the planet, you spend the most time with yourself. That's why the fact that we don't really know that much about ourselves is so unfair. These 7 cognitive tests can help provide a bit more perspective on how your brain works, the shortcuts it takes, and its character in general.
The Cognitive reflection test
This very short test measures an aspect of your mind known as cognitive reflection, or your ability to consider your own cognition. Take look at the following three questions and see what comes to mind.
- A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
- If it takes 5 machines 5 minutes to make 5 widgets, how long would it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
- In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
About one in three people provide the wrong answer to all three questions, and 83% provide at least one wrong answer. Essentially, this test measures people's ability to resist making mental shortcuts. The questions themselves heavily encourage a particular answer, but a few moments of reflection reveal that the easy answers are red herrings. The correct answers can be found at the bottom of this page.
Interestingly, low scores on the cognitive reflection test correlate with an inability to see fake news headlines as fake. Just to provide some context, the kind of fake headlines used in this study were along the lines of “Election Night: Hillary was Drunk, Got Physical with Mook and Podesta."
The International Personality Item Pool
While measuring personality is a somewhat controversial subject among psychologists, some research has shown that the personality measures used in the International Personality Item Pool (IPIP) correlate to the likelihood of developing a mental disorder, academic achievement, and even how long one might live.
The test measures five major characteristics: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Take the test here. You'll notice there's both a short and a long version available; keep in mind that the long version, while more accurate, has 300 questions.
Many people are probably more familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality test, which places people in 16 different, opposing categories, such as thinking versus feeling personalities and judging versus perceiving personalities. The Myers-Briggs test, however, has been widely criticized due to its inability to consistently measure an individual's personality, its lack of objectivity, and its validity. In fact, Katherine Briggs and Isabel Myers—the creators of the test—weren't even trained psychologists.
The Wonderlic test
The Wonderlic Test—wonderfully named after its creator, Eldon F. Wonderlic—is composed of 50 questions designed to measure overall cognitive ability, or intelligence. Most are probably familiar with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS), which measures a tester's intelligence quotient (IQ) and places the average at 100. The Wonderlic, in contrast, has an average score of 20.
The main difference between the Wonderlic and the WAIS tests, however, is that Wonderlic is used primarily as a method of vetting potential employees. The American Psychological Association has approved its use for personnel testing, and it is currently employed in many different sectors. Most notably, the Wonderlic is used in the NFL to assess the intelligence of draft picks. With any luck, you'll outperform Jets cornerback Morris Claiborne, who scored a disastrous four. To put that in context, Wonderlic, Inc. claims a score of 10 is considered to be roughly equivalent to literacy. You may do better than Morris Claiborne, but it'll be a challenge to outperform Tom Brady, who scored a 33, or Eli Manning, who scored a 39. Take a sample Wonderlic here.
First developed by Antoine Bechara, the Iowa Gambling Task was designed to mimic real-world decision-making and assess executive function—essentially, the set of cognitive processes that allows for the deliberate control of behavior. You can take the test here.
The Iowa Gambling Task is simple; the premise is that you've borrowed $2000 to gamble with. There are four decks you can draw from, each of which will sometimes produce a card that rewards you with money, penalizes you, or does a combination of the two. Each turn, you can choose from which deck you want to draw from.
The trick of the test, however, is that two of the decks have greater penalties, and two of them have greater rewards. Most people switch to a “good" deck after a period of losses, but patients with damage to their prefrontal cortexes (where the bulk of the brains executive functioning transpires) fail to predict future consequences of the actions and play the same deck. Furthermore, chronic gamblers have been found to exhibit reduced responses to playing risky decks (i.e., playing bad decks that lead to losing all your money).
The Stroop test
Named after John Ridley Stroop, the Stroop test is a very well-known measure of executive function. Like the Iowa Gambling Task, its premise is straightforward: a series of color words are presented to the test taker (i.e., “red," “blue," etc.), but the words themselves are printed in randomly colored ink. The task is to select the color of the word as fast as possible rather than selecting the word itself. So, if the word “red" were in blue ink, the test taker would answer “blue."
It turns out this is a pretty difficult thing for us to do. There are a few different theories out there for why this happens, but the main one is that the brain processes linguistic information far faster than color information. Both the word and the color hit our eyeballs at the same time, but the word gets pulled into the decision-making process first. The brain has to inhibit this information in order to select the correct, color-based response. Interestingly, people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) perform more poorly on this test, likely due to their reduced ability to inhibit their automatic responses.
Take the test here.
The Paced Auditory Serial Addition Task (PASAT)
This task measures the test taker's capacity for information processing as well as the rate at which that occurs. While it was originally designed to assess the impact of a traumatic brain injury on the test taker's cognitive functioning, the PASAT relies on working memory, attention, and arithmetic abilities and can be used to assess these qualities in any subject. Notably, scores on the PASAT decrease with age, indicating the effects of cognitive decline.
The PASAT is mainly used in patients with multiple sclerosis—in which nerve cells lose their insulating sheaths—as their ability to maintain the attention required for this test is severely impaired. You can take the PASAT here.
The Implicit-Association Test
As much as we'd like to think otherwise, many of us harbor biases and stereotypes that we may not even be aware of. The implicit-association test was designed to uncover these hidden belief systems. It's been used in the past to show that most researchers believe quality research only comes from rich countries and that medical doctors have an implicit preference for white patients over black patients. Project Implicit, based out of Harvard University, has a series of implicit-association tests on their website on topics such as age, race, weapons, and disabilities.
Essentially, the test works by providing two categories—for example, “white" and “black"—and by asking the user to rapidly associate a series of terms with those categories. For instance, the user may be asked to associate pleasant terms (such as “happiness") with the “black" category and unpleasant terms (such as “suffering") with the “white" category. A user with a negative implicit association towards black people would spend longer associating positive terms with the black category.
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What is human dignity? Here's a primer, told through 200 years of great essays, lectures, and novels.
- Human dignity means that each of our lives have an unimpeachable value simply because we are human, and therefore we are deserving of a baseline level of respect.
- That baseline requires more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose.
- We look at incredible writings from the last 200 years that illustrate the push for human dignity in regards to slavery, equality, communism, free speech and education.
The inherent worth of all human beings<p>Human dignity is the inherent worth of each individual human being. Recognizing human dignity means respecting human beings' special value—value that sets us apart from other animals; value that is intrinsic and cannot be lost.</p> <p>Liberalism—the broad political philosophy that organizes society around liberty, justice, and equality—is rooted in the idea of human dignity. Liberalism assumes each of our lives, plans, and preferences have some unimpeachable value, not because of any objective evaluation or contribution to a greater good, but simply because they belong to a human being. We are human, and therefore deserving of a baseline level of respect. </p> <p>Because so many of us take human dignity for granted—just a fact of our humanness—it's usually only when someone's dignity is ignored or violated that we feel compelled to talk about it. </p> <p>But human dignity means more than the absence of violence, discrimination, and authoritarianism. It means giving individuals the freedom to pursue their own happiness and purpose—a freedom that can be hampered by restrictive social institutions or the tyranny of the majority. The liberal ideal of the good society is not just peaceful but also pluralistic: It is a society in which we respect others' right to think and live differently than we do.</p>
From the 19th century to today<p>With <a href="https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?year_start=1800&year_end=2019&content=human+dignity&corpus=26&smoothing=3&direct_url=t1%3B%2Chuman%20dignity%3B%2Cc0" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Google Books Ngram Viewer</a>, we can chart mentions of human dignity from 1800-2019.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDg0ODU0My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MTUwMzE4MX0.bu0D_0uQuyNLyJjfRESNhu7twkJ5nxu8pQtfa1w3hZs/img.png?width=980" id="7ef38" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9974c7bef3812fcb36858f325889e3c6" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
American novelist, writer, playwright, poet, essayist and civil rights activist James Baldwin at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, southern France, on November 6, 1979.
Credit: Ralph Gatti/AFP via Getty Images
The future of dignity<p>Around the world, people are still working toward the full and equal recognition of human dignity. Every year, new speeches and writings help us understand what dignity is—not only what it looks like when dignity is violated but also what it looks like when dignity is honored. In his posthumous essay, Congressman Lewis wrote, "When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war."</p> <p>The more we talk about human dignity, the better we understand it. And the sooner we can make progress toward a shared vision of peace, freedom, and mutual respect for all. </p>
With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.
- The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
- Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
- A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
Two strategic blunders<p>Now, historians and mathematicians from York St. John University have collaborated to produce <a href="http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~nm15/bootstrapBoB%20AAMS.docx" target="_blank">a statistical model (docx download)</a> capable of calculating what the likely outcomes of the Battle of Britain would have been had the circumstances been different. </p><p>Would the German war effort have fared better had they not bombed Britain at all? What if Hitler had begun his bombing campaign earlier, even by just a few weeks? What if they had focused their targets on RAF airfields for the entire course of the battle? Using a statistical technique called weighted bootstrapping, the researchers studied these and other alternatives.</p><p>"The weighted bootstrap technique allowed us to model alternative campaigns in which the Luftwaffe prolongs or contracts the different phases of the battle and varies its targets," said co-author Dr. Jaime Wood in a <a href="https://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/news/2020/research/mathematicians-battle-britain-what-if-scenarios/" target="_blank">statement</a>. Based on the different strategic decisions that the German forces could have made, the researchers' model enabled them to predict the likelihood that the events of a given day of fighting would or would not occur.</p><p>"The Luftwaffe would only have been able to make the necessary bases in France available to launch an air attack on Britain in June at the earliest, so our alternative campaign brings forward the air campaign by three weeks," continued Wood. "We tested the impact of this and the other counterfactuals by varying the probabilities with which we choose individual days."</p><p>Ultimately, two strategic tweaks shifted the odds significantly towards the Germans' favor. Had the German forces started their campaign earlier in the year and had they consistently targeted RAF airfields, an Allied victory would have been extremely unlikely.</p><p>Say the odds of a British victory in the real-world Battle of Britain stood at 50-50 (there's no real way of knowing what the actual odds are, so we'll just have to select an arbitrary figure). If this were the case, changing the start date of the campaign and focusing only on airfields would have reduced British chances at victory to just 10 percent. Even if a British victory stood at 98 percent, these changes would have cut them down to just 34 percent.</p>
A tool for understanding history<p>This technique, said co-author Niall Mackay, "demonstrates just how finely-balanced the outcomes of some of the biggest moments of history were. Even when we use the actual days' events of the battle, make a small change of timing or emphasis to the arrangement of those days and things might have turned out very differently."</p><p>The researchers also claimed that their technique could be applied to other uncertain historical events. "Weighted bootstrapping can provide a natural and intuitive tool for historians to investigate unrealized possibilities, informing historical controversies and debates," said Mackay.</p><p>Using this technique, researchers can evaluate other what-ifs and gain insight into how differently influential events could have turned out if only the slightest things had changed. For now, at least, we can all be thankful that Hitler underestimated Britain's grit.</p>
We’ve mapped a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way. Take the virtual tour here.
See the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
Astronomers have mapped about a million previously undiscovered galaxies beyond the Milky Way, in the most detailed survey of the southern sky ever carried out using radio waves.
A new study shows our planet is much closer to the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center than previously estimated.
Arrows on this map show position and velocity data for the 224 objects utilized to model the Milky Way Galaxy. The solid black lines point to the positions of the spiral arms of the Galaxy. Colors reflect groups of objects that are part of the same arm, while the background is a simulation image.
Apple sold its first iPod in 2001, and six years later it introduced the iPhone, which ushered in a new era of personal technology.