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Abilities, Measurement of

Human abilities measurement is the science of quantifying individuals’ capabilities for performing cognitive tasks. Cognitive tasks range from abstract “IQ test”–like tasks, to the kinds of academic tasks routinely assigned in school (e.g., reading, writing, science, and mathematics), to those conducted in the workplace (e.g., accounting, forecasting, and decision making). Capabilities are what an individual can do in a best-case situation, when alert, well rested, and motivated, as opposed to what that individual might do routinely, which is captured in the often-cited distinction between maximal versus typical performance. The importance of motivation in human abilities measurement has been demonstrated in various incentives studies that show that fairly simple incentives, such as nominal pay or suggestions that test scores might be shared with potential employers, can ...

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