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Do You Have an IQ?

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IQ is an epithetic term often used to label a person’s identity and intelligence as being “smart” or “dumb”. Its precise definition stated in the dictionary is the following: “a number to indicate a person’s status of intelligence compared to other people.” Therefore, having an IQ of 100 is average; below 70, intellectually disabled; above 130, intellectually gifted. Furthermore, a variety of test have been developed to assess IQ by measuring memory, judgment, reasoning, problem solving skills and more. Due to the multiple dimensions IQ tests reflect on, most of the tests produce distinct scores for each different section. However, there have been plausible controversies revolving around IQ tests and its validity. There are also potential problems that have been identified and will be introduced in the following paragraphs. Nevertheless, in spite of the controversies and flaws of the IQ test there are still intriguing correlations that can exist between IQ and other variables.

In order to apprehend the controversies about IQ tests and correlates of IQ, there is a necessity to first understand what intelligence is. Intelligence refers to the cognitive abilities of an individual to learn from experience, to reason well, and to cope effectively with the demands of daily living (Lahey, 2002). There are two different views of intelligence as it being a single general factor or specific abilities. The general factor view suggests intelligence as a foundation for specific abilities. On the other hand, the alternative view proposes that intelligence is an accumulation of specific abilities such as: linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, artistic, athletic, social, and personal adjustment (Gardner, 1983). Many IQ tests focus simply on verbal and logical-mathematical aspects of intelligence. This means that they fail to asses “intelligence” as a whole, which is a significant point criticized by many scientists. Moreover, there is a controversy on the definition of intelligence itself and thus it has not been defined adequately. “We cannot measure intelligence when we have not defined it,” (Lippmann, 1920), this quote irrefutably illustrates the defect on IQ tests since they intend to a measure construct with no concrete definition. Therefore, if an individual is taking an IQ test, this intelligence is measured on the definition of the test makers.

In addition to the defect above, there are additional problems and controversies of the test that are critical. The IQ test rely heavily on symbolic logic and consists many words and phrases to design questions for the test taker. Therefore, the test may not provide an accurate result for illiterate people and provide setbacks, which is an immense flaw for a test that measures intelligence. Furthermore, there is a risk that the IQ may give an impression about restrictions of ability. In other words, the test scores may label the test taker and limit his/her true abilities. As mentioned above the IQ test only measures a certain aspect of the full range of a person’s intellectual abilities, and therefore should never restrict a person’s abilities. Last but not least, research has shown that IQ has high heritability and is affected by or correlated with various factors such as income level, education, nutrition, race, and sex. Thus, a human’s IQ may be fluctuates if these factors have changed.

So what are these factors and how do they correlate to an IQ? First, race show a striking correlation. Jews and East Asians are located in the higher scale than white Americans by 5 points, and white Americans are about 15 points higher than African American do. Unfortunately, not much data are available to explain for the variance that exist among different races. However, an interesting observation is that that African American have shown greater increments on IQ over the past 50 years than the white Americans (Flynn, 1999). Moreover, this phenomenon has a plausible answer: changes in environment. This increment coincides with the the desegregation of African Americans, which led to a dramatic change in the educational experience of African Americans. This implies that IQ tests are affected by level of influenced education.

Second, IQ has a substantial correlation with occupations since IQ tests scores can predict how well you will do in a career to some extent. Furthermore, people with a higher IQ will probably learn more, get better grades, and complete more years of education than people with a lower IQ (Brody, 1997). Thus, they are more suitable for complex and intellectually challenging jobs, which tend to be high paid and prestigious jobs. In fact, truck drivers tend to have average IQ of somewhat under 100, while doctors and lawyers have IQ’s 125 or higher (Hunt, 1995). Moreover, people with an IQ under 85 are very likely to drop out of high school, and to become
unemployed and indigence, divorce, have health problems, and have criminal records. In summary, there is a high correlation between IQ and achievements in life and education.

Finally, intellectual environment is a substantial factor determining IQ and therefore it is highly correlated. The exposure of childhood with the world of adult intelligence via interactions and experiences seems essential to normal intellectual development. For an example, if a child is severely neglected from his/her parents this environment illustrates a very slow intellectual development, but the child being in good foster homes will show rapid development (Clarke & Clarke, 1976). In addition, a study was made to a group of children from poorly educated parents who put one of their children up for adoption but raised their other children themselves. Moreover, the children were adopted momentarily after birth by much better educated families Years later, the non-adopted siblings had an average IQ of 95, while the adopted children averaged 109 (Lewontin, 1986). Thus, there are recent evidence suggesting that intentionally increasing IQs by enriching intellectual environments is in fact possible.

In conclusion, despite of the controversies and flaws of the IQ test, IQs have numerous significant correlations with several factors such as: race, career, environment. Moreover, these correlations definitely show that IQ is a rational term and that IQ tests are producing valid results.





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