Revisiting Carroll’s Survey of Factor-Analytic Studies: Implications for the Clinical Assessment of Intelligence

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John Carroll’s three-stratum theory (and the decades of research behind its development) is foundational to the contemporary practice of intellectual assessment. The present study addresses some limitations of Carroll’s work: specification, reproducibility with more modern methods, and interpretive relevance. We reanalyzed select data sets from Carroll’s survey of factor analytic studies using confirmatory factor analysis as well as modern indices of interpretive relevance. For the majority of data sets, we found that Carroll likely extracted too many factors representing Stratum II abilities. Moreover, almost all factors representing Stratum II abilities had little-to-no interpretive relevance above and beyond that of general intelligence. We conclude by discussing the implications of this research with respect to the interpretive relevance and clinical utility of scores reflecting cognitive abilities at all strata of the three-stratum theory and offer some directions for future research.

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