Can intelligence really be measured by an IQ test?

IQ stands for Intelligence quotient, which is a score obtained by standardized tests used to measure the reasoning and cognitive ability or “intelligence” of someone. It is supposed to determine how well someone can use information and logic to answer questions or make predictions.

What abilities does the test focus on?

IQ tests focus on abilities such as mathematical skills, working memory (similar to short-term memory), perceptual organization (visual and spatial processing), language abilities (such as verbal comprehension), and processing speed; they calculate this by your ability to see relationships, solve problems, and remember information.

The test stimulates three major parts of the brain:

– Parietal Lobe (associated with movement, orientation, recognition and perception).

– Occipital Lobe (associated with visual processing).

– Temporal Lobe (associated with perception and recognition of auditory stimulation, memory, and speech).

How does your IQ score define your intelligence? Can it change with time?

There is no such a thing as “a unique and fixed IQ result”, and there are multiple types of IQ tests which mean your results could fluctuate depending on the conditions in which you take your test, however they can classify your results quite accurately in different categories:

Extremely high130 and above
High110 to 129
Average90 to 109
Low70 to 89
Extremely low69 and below

Someone’s IQ results can change with time as they develop their capacities. We can be quick to assume that your intelligence would improve by learning data about different subjects by heart or learning new vocabulary, which is somehow true. However, it’s important not to confuse ability with knowledge.

Your IQ can change with time as your able to develop your abilities and skills including social or logic ones, but it’s not likely to increase it by memorization.

For being able to conclude if IQ tests can determine your intelligence, we should first establish:

What’s defined as intelligence?

Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

More generally, it can be described as the ability to perceive information, and to retain it as knowledge to be applied in your behaviors within a specific environment or context.

However, for defining intelligence as accurately as possible we should also take in consideration the types of intelligence: There are multiple theories, each having different number of them, nevertheless most theories agree on seven types.

1. Linguistic / Enjoy writing, reading, telling stories, doing crossword puzzles…

2. Logical-Mathematical / Interested in patterns, categories and relationships. Drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

3. Bodily-kinesthetic / Process knowledge through bodily sensations. Often athletic, dancers or good at crafts such as sewing or woodworking.

4. Spatial / Think in images and pictures. May be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing, building things or daydreaming.

5. Musical / Often singing or drumming to themselves. Usually quite aware of sounds other may miss. Often careful listeners.

6. Interpersonal / Leaders among their peers, who are good at communicating and who seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.

7. Intrapersonal / May be shy but are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

What makes a clever brain?

There have been multiples studies over time that have tried to link brain characteristics with the intelligence of an individual. The conclusion many have arrived at is that larger brain size and volume is associated with better cognitive functioning and higher intelligence. The brain size accounts for between 9% and 16% of the overall variability of general intelligence.

The regions of the brain that show most connection with size and intelligence are the temporal and parietal lobes (both highly stimulated by IQ tests) and the frontal lobe.

Flash info to take into account:

After all my research I have concluded that these are the most crucial aspects to take in consideration while deciding whether “intelligence can really be measured by an IQ test”

  1. The test cannot measure your knowledge only your abilities.
  2. The test focusses mainly on abilities directed by three parts of the brain, two of which a bigger size would mean more intelligence, so your IQ score and size of the brain are highly connected.
  3. Working on some types of intelligences (such as linguistic logical-mathematical and spatial) will increase their IQ more than others may.
  4. Intelligence such as intrapersonal will not be taking in consideration by the test but are nonetheless crucial for someone’s happiness and success in life, making them considerably clever but not being perceived by the IQ.

Main drawbacks:

  1. It’s challenging to design an independent test: Each country culture and company may develop their own, having a reasonable difference of complexity and topics considered.
  2. It can lead to competitivity and stereotypes.
  3. It doesn’t take in consideration all types of intelligences.
  4. They have made a business, with considerable economic profits out of it.

Now that you have all the information needed, it’s your turn to assess whether IQ tests are a valid tool to measure our intelligence.

Sofia Adrados de Pablos / S5ES / EEB1 Uccle

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