(1944- )
American Psychologist



  • University of Pennsylvania , B.A. (1965)
  • Columbia University, M.A. (1967)
  • Columbia University , Ph.D. (1970)


  • 1968-1974, Assistant Director of Test Research/Director of Statistics, The Psychological Corporation
  • 1970-1974, Project manager for the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Revised (WISC-R); he worked directly with David Wechsler
  • 1974-1979, Associate Professor, University of Georgia
  • 1982-1986; 1995-1997, Professor/Adjunct Professor, California School of Professional Psychology at San Diego
  • 1984-1995, Research Professor, University of Alabama
  • 1997-present, Clinical Professor of Psychology, Yale University

Definition of Intelligence

“What used to be was Wechsler saying “There’s g, or maybe there are these two main ways we can express g-verbally and nonverbally.”  I think now it makes more sense to think that we should be measuring a wider array of abilities, whether that number is 4 or 5 or 6 or 7. From Wechsler’s perspective, if you’re measuring something called intelligence it should still be complex.  And if you try to make abilities very narrow to fit a theory very precisely than I think you are losing the essence of what we as intelligent people can do, which is think in very complex ways. So we have not strived for factor purity.  We used factor analysis results to support our scales, and they do.  But we deliberately make our scales impure to match what we believe is inside people-A complex way of approaching the world (personal communication, July 31, 2004).”

Major Contributions

  • Intelligent Testing with the WISC-R and Intelligent Testing with the WISC-III
  • With Nadeen L. Kaufman, developed Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (K-TEA), Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT), the second editions of these tests (KABC-II, KTEA-3, KBIT-2 Revised (Sept. 2022)), the Kaufman Adult and Adolescent Intelligence Test (KAIT), among many instruments.

Click here to see the interview transcript and video clips.

Ideas and Interests

The field of intelligence testing has been revolutionized by the work of Alan S. Kaufman. His best-selling book, Intelligent Testing with the WISC-R (1979) , introduced and popularized the phrase “intelligent testing,” an idea that stressed the psychologist’s theoretical knowledge and experience as the primary ingredient for meaningful and appropriate testing to occur. Single numbers, or scores, mean little by themselves; the key to functionality is the interpretation of the score within a broad, yet individualized, context. The test examiner is expected to apply their integrated and internalized training and bring their own clinical experience to the testing session. According to Kaufman, the examiner can best help the child or adult being evaluated by understanding and interpreting a wide range of behaviors, and making direct inferences about observed problem solving strategies. Every aspect of psychology is brought into play to interpret a set of scores in the context of accumulated research. Kaufman asserted that this kind of assessment is far more likely to change lives than the narrow, test-centered intelligence testing more typical of the decade of the 1970’s, when Kaufman was venturing farther away from his “pure” measurement background and feeling the needs of clinicians.

Kaufman, with his wife Nadeen, then created his own series of tests: The Kaufman Assessment Battery for Children (K-ABC), the Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (K-TEA), the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test (K-BIT), the Kaufman Adult and Adolescent Intelligence Test (KAIT), and many other instruments. The K-ABC, the first major intelligence test to challenge the Wechsler, was known for its top-notch standardization process and accompanying validity research studies, raising the bar for future tests. Kaufman’s measurement and statistics background (he received his Ph.D. from Columbia under Robert L. Thorndike ) helped develop a new level of sophisticated test interpretation. The K-ABC was also the first test to integrate theoretical cognitive psychology into testing, using the ideas of Luria and Sperry in its conception.

He has also edited, with his wife, a series of Essentials of Assessment books that explain different testing tools in an easy-to-understand manner. Kaufman continues to be an active test author and research psychologist.

In addition, Alan S. Kaufman has served as a mentor to a new generation of intelligence test authors and users. His students, among them Jack Naglieri, Bruce Bracken, Cecil Reynolds, Patti Harrison, and Randy Kamphaus, have further changed the field that Kaufman helped establish.


Kaufman, A.S. (1979). Intelligent testing with the WISC-R. New York : Wiley.

Kaufman, A.S., & Kaufman, N.L. (1983). K-ABC interpretative manual. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service. (2 nd ed., 2004, KABC-II)

Kaufman, A.S. (1990). Assessing Adolescent and Adult Intelligence. Boston : Allyn & Bacon. (revised 2002 with Elizabeth Lichtenberger); 2006 edition with Elizabeth Lichtenberger published by Wiley)

Kaufman, A.S. (1994). Intelligent Testing with the WISC-III. New York : John Wiley & Sons.

Kaufman, A. S., & Lichtenberger, E. O. (1999). Essentials of WAIS-III assessment. New York : Wiley.

Kaufman, A.S. (2001). WAIS-III IQs, Horn’ s theory, and generational changes from young adulthood to old age. Intelligence, 29, 131-167.

Kaufman, A.S. (2021). The Precipitous Decline in Reasoning and Other Key Abilities with Age and Its Implications for Federal Judges, Journal of Intelligence,  52. 1-23.


We would like to thank Dr. James C. Kaufman for his help with this profile.

Photograph courtesy of Dr. James C. Kaufman


Last Updated on April 27, 2022