What you always wanted to know about IQ!

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“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.“


Do you ever question whether you actually are intelligent? We tend to playfully degrade ourselves when we forget our keys, fail to answer a seemingly simple question, or just can't do well on a specific subject in school. But are those incidences really referable to our intelligence?

If that were true, questions on an IQ Test would probably look like this: "On average, how often do you forget to turn off the oven?" But that is not the case, is it?

When our intelligence quotient is measured, the questions focus on our working memory capacity, problem-solving skills, and reasoning, as well as how we compare to others in our age group. And while that is certainly good to know, it most often leaves us with more questions. If my mother has an IQ of 130, do I automatically have a similar IQ score? And what are true signs of intelligence that have nothing to do with scores and marks at school or what job I have?

You are on the right track! Asking questions is the first step. A person's intelligence and its development rely on the willingness to learn, the hunger for knowledge! Whether you want to take an IQ Test to know for sure or are simply interested in finding answers to the questions you find most interesting, by looking for answers you have proven yourself already.

Does being intelligent make you happy?

a woman dancing in a field with her arms spread out

To meaningfully answer this question, we first need to look at what it means to “be happy.” As you probably already know, what makes people happy varies widely from person to person. Some major things that affect individual happiness include health, relationships with a partner and others, professional success, material wealth (or the lack of it), and opportunities to engage in sports and hobbies.

For our purposes, it makes sense to focus on education and professional success. In these areas, the answer to, “Does being intelligent make people happy?” is usually yes. Studies have shown that intelligence has an enormous influence on educational success because it leads to better results in school. Having a good education is likely to boost a person’s career, which can lead to higher social standing.

Also, an intelligent person who can consciously adjust his or her thinking to meet new demands and solve the problems that invariably arise in real life is usually happier than someone who cannot do this.

But a high IQ does not literally guarantee happiness. If Alex has a higher IQ than Hans, is he happier? The answer is: not necessarily.

When you look at case studies, there are plenty of examples of people with low IQ scores (70-80) becoming successful - and you might assume, happy – in their careers. But there are also many examples of students with high IQ scores (140+) who did not successfully complete their studies and were likely unhappy about it.

Also, many people get fulfillment from what they do for a living and in life no matter what intelligence tests might say.

A high IQ score is also not enough to guarantee you will have a happy interpersonal life – that is, fulfilling relationships with other people. Emotional intelligence plays an essential role in this area.

So no, a high IQ does not necessarily guarantee a happy life.

Is intelligence related to education?

A child sitting at a desk in a classroom, surrounded by other pupils

To answer this question accurately, we need to look at how intelligence and education are different.

“Education” describes the amount of knowledge one has acquired, including qualifications and academic degree(s) earned. The higher your education level, the more knowledge you have acquired.

Since intelligence is the ability to make logical connections between and draw conclusions from facts, education is necessary for intelligence. Likewise, intelligence is not useful without knowledge. As studies have shown, intelligence rises steadily in childhood and adolescence and declines again slightly as early as a person’s 30s. Education and training often continue throughout a person’s life.

Raymond Cattell refers to this as Fluid Intelligence and Crystallized Intelligence. Fluid is your ability to reason and to solve problems. Crystallized is the intelligence that relies on education, and understanding and memorizing new information.

You can read more on this right here: Different Types of Intelligence

Studies have also shown that intelligence strongly influences educational success and that there is a high correlation between a person’s academic achievement and their intelligence. (Correlation measures the strength of the connection between two characteristics.)

Intelligent people understand that they need to be educated to fully and wisely use their intelligence. Studies show that children of educated, intelligent parents are also intelligent and strive for a high level of education. The children of the intelligentsia often become members of that intelligentsia themselves.

Also, the measurement of intelligence by means of IQ tests shows that one needs an education to get a high IQ score.

Taking a closer look at the types of IQ tests, a person quickly realizes that he or she would need basic knowledge just to answer the questions. For example, if you are asked in a multiple-choice question which city does not match the others and one city is not a capital, then you need to know the capitals. Also, an understanding of numbers is needed to answer test questions correctly.

Is intelligence hereditary?

All scientific studies show that, to a certain extent, intelligence is inherited. However, the old claim that 80 percent to 85 percent of intelligence is inherited is no longer considered accurate; in fact, estimates still vary widely between 40 percent and 80 percent. In the 1980s, hereditary intelligence was estimated to be 40 percent to 50 percent; and in the 90s, the estimate was 65 percent to 75 percent for adults and 40 percent to 45 percent for children. It is now known that intelligence originates in the interaction of many genes.

The latest studies, which have also been carried out on sets of twins, show that differences in cognitive abilities at birth are caused by genetic factors. Once children start school, the influence of genes on intelligence increases to 50 percent, and in adulthood, to as high as 70 percent.

a boys

The predisposition for intelligence is therefore inherited. But for a person to fully develop their intelligence, they must have a supportive environment. If a person can develop independence, have challenging tasks set for them, and can develop personality traits such as perseverance, diligence, motivation, and frustration tolerance, a person who is 'born smart' can become an intelligent person.

Research shows that changes in personality traits can be epigenetically influenced. Put more simply, this means that the environment can influence genetics. Environment determines which genes are 'turned on' or 'turned off' – that is, which genes are specifically read. While there are 1,271 gene variations that are thought to play a role in the inheritance of intelligence, this must always be seen in a context with many other factors.

Can intelligence be learned?

a black and white photo of a chess board where the white queen checkmates the black king

We have seen that intelligence is correlated to education and is influenced by both heredity and environment. We have also seen that intelligence, in its broadest sense, can be learned within a certain framework – but not in the way you would learn vocabulary words or a poem. The better question is probably, can I increase my IQ score by learning?

Research has shown that by practicing and studying hard for IQ tests, you can increase your score a bit. This is because, after a few tests, you become familiar with the test format and feel calmer and more composed while testing. However, it was also shown that this only helps increase the score by 10 points or fewer.

What makes me more intelligent?

a young boy crouching over a pile of computer parts trying to reassemble a motherboard

People with high intelligence (that is, cleverness, creativity, and the ability to solve problems) perform exceptionally well between the ages of 20 and 30 and remain intelligent later in life. People with average or low IQs gain intelligence until around age 20; after that, it begins to decline.

These statements assume that intelligence can be measured by tests, that an IQ score can be used as a measure of intelligence, and that testing produces a valid result.

The influence that heredity, parents and other major childhood figures have on intelligence at a later age is reported elsewhere.

Are attractive people smarter?

a bearded and well groomed young man standing on the street, modeling a blue three-piece suit

The answer is: not necessarily, but they can seem that way to the people in a position to judge them. Even if you feel you are not attractive, there are things you can do to appear more intelligent and to make a positive impression in the situations you need to. Since personal impressions have a strong influence in job interviews and in professional life, you should always consider the effect you want to have on people.

Generally, a person who seems educated, especially about subjects relevant to an interview or a discussion, and who shows competence, understands problems quickly, and can offer possible solutions, will perform well. But there are also external factors to consider, which can influence the interviewer’s emotional side.

Some things that can impress an interviewer include:

  • Sitting upright with an open stance. This shows self-confidence and intelligence.
  • Dressing appropriately.
  • Not wearing a heavy scent or giving off other intrusive odors.
  • Speaking slowly and articulately.
  • Being careful with words (in particular, do not try too hard to be witty or to sound smart).

Can intelligence be read in the face?

a close-up of a young womans blue eye surrounded by freckles and red hair

Probably not, even if a few studies say otherwise. Otherwise, you could just skip the IQ test and rely on facial recognition software to demonstrate intelligence.

On the other hand, we have seen that intelligence is hereditary to a certain extent and develops according to one’s social environment. Since high intelligence often leads to intellectual activity, which often requires a well-groomed appearance in everyday professional life, a person could assume to a limited extent that there is a correlation between a well-groomed face and high intelligence.

Such a correlation also seems to be shown by a frequently cited 2014 study conducted at Charles University in Prague in which photos of 40 men and 40 women were shown to 85 women and 75 men, who were then asked to correctly estimate their intelligence.

In the case of the men, the study found a correlation between intelligence and facial features. The men who had longer faces, more wide-set eyes, more animated mouths and chins that were less round were guessed to be more intelligent. Men with small noses and larger chins, on the other hand, were guessed to have lower intelligence.

Interestingly, the study participants did not make a correlation between the women’s facial features and their intelligence.

The study also examined the correlation between perceived attractiveness and perceived intelligence of the same 40 men and 40 women. The participants made positive correlations for both the men and the women. From this, it can be concluded that, in general, more attractive people are rated as being more intelligent.

Are chaotic people more intelligent?

a birds eye view of a messy desk with coffee cups, loose papers, a computer screen, and hands on a keyboard

The answer is yes and no. But first, what is a chaotic person (sometimes called a “chaot”)? The dictionary gives two definitions:

(1) a person who is unwilling or unable to keep order, and

(2) a person who tries to enforce their (usually political) convictions by means of violence and destruction.

Chaotic people might insist that there is a method to their madness - an order which is not apparent to other people. And they might also maintain that those who love order are lazy and uninspired. But since chaotic people for whatever reason are not able to create or maintain order, for our purposes, they are less intelligent than more ordered people.

Also, highly intelligent people will usually agree that (political) convictions should not be enforced with violence or destruction.

All this said, there are also studies that claim to have proved that disorder and genius go hand in hand. One from the University of Minnesota states that the cluttered desks of many geniuses are a sign of their high intelligence and that they are too busy thinking of bigger things to bother to keep their desks neat. This idea has become popular in mainstream culture (probably propagated by messy people who like to think of themselves as unsung Einsteins!).

If you are a chaotic person yourself, you probably enjoy the idea that you might be a genius because of this. But don’t get carried away, because science does not back this notion very strongly. Sorry!

Are 'night owls' more intelligent?

a man sitting in a dark room in front of a computer

First, we need to distinguish between the chronotypes of 'owls' and 'larks.'

Larks are early risers who are efficient and active just as soon as they wake up. Owls are late risers who are especially active in the evening and who usually go to bed late. (For our purposes, we will assume that everyone gets enough sleep, or about 8 hours a night.)

Studies have shown that about 40 percent of people are definitively either larks or owls. The remaining 60 percent have a tendency toward being one or the other.

Another observation is that children tend to be larks, adolescents tend to be owls, and that this can change again after puberty.

Assuming intelligence increases between childhood and adulthood, there is no connection between chronotype and intelligence.

This changes in adulthood, however. Studies have shown that owls do not sleep as soundly or for as long as larks, which impairs their efficiency. Larks, on the other hand, tend to be more conscientious and more satisfied with their lives than owls are.

Despite this, owls were found to be more intelligent than larks. A famous example of an owl is physicist Erwin Schrödinger, who on principle refused to give morning lectures when asked to succeed Max Planck at the University of Berlin. The claim that owls are more intelligent than larks is backed up by two frequently cited studies. One from the University of Southampton is titled, 'Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent.' Its thesis states that owls can integrate new things into their lives more easily and can find solutions to problems more quickly. In addition, this study states that people who go to bed after 11 p.m. and sleep longer have more money at their disposal and enjoy happier lifestyles.

The second study, from the University of Madrid, examined the biorhythms of around 1,000 teenagers and looked at their performances on various tests. Of these teenagers, 32 percent were owls, 25 percent were larks, and the remaining 43 percent were unassigned. The owls were revealed to have more of the mental abilities needed to get better jobs and earn higher incomes.

Finally, a meta-analysis (the result of several studies summarized) from the researcher Franzis Preckel showed a slightly positive correlation between evening activity and intelligence.

Are humorous people more intelligent?

a standup comedian standing on a dark lit stage in front of an audience

Dr. Sigmund Freud famously wrote that humor is 'a basic mental attitude that recognizes human shortcomings in the ills of life and laughingly forgives them.' And the saying, 'Humor is when you laugh anyway' is well-known.

Humor can therefore be thought of as a basic attitude toward life - one that acknowledges, understands, and forgives human shortcomings. Not taking yourself and your problems too seriously is a sign you have a sense of humor. Humorous people seem to be 'above' things.

Scientific research has proved that humorous people are more intelligent than non-humorous ones. They also tended to score higher on intelligence tests.

While most humans have IQs between 90 and 110, people considered especially humorous achieved IQ scores ranging between 126 and 138.

William E. Hauck and John W. Thomas of Bucknell University proved that humor correlates strongly with intelligence. However, psychologist Sonja Heinz from the University of Zurich came to a different conclusion. In the result of her study on humor and personality, she states that humor and intelligence are hardly coupled - i.e., there is at most only a weak correlation between them.

So, while there is a correlation, humor is not a definitive indicator of intelligence.

We will let Erich Kästner, the German satirist, poet, and novelist, have the last word on this topic:

'Humor is the umbrella of the wise.'

Are blondes dumber?

a blonde female scientist looking through a microscope in a laboratory

No is the unequivocal answer to this age-old question - which, by the way, has also been scientifically studied.

To ask this question more generally: Is there a connection between hair color and intelligence?

Jay Zagorsky of Ohio State University provided one answer. His 1976 study of more than 10,000 men and women revealed that women with blonde hair had an average IQ of 103.2, brunettes averaged 102.7, black-haired people averaged 100.5 and redheads averaged 101.2. Statistically speaking, these differences are not relevant, so a correlation between hair color and intelligence could not be proven in this study.

Are you ready to take an IQ Test?

Based on the answers to these questions, you probably have an idea of where you might fall on the intelligence spectrum. Or maybe you want to prove the statistics wrong?

In that case, it is time to take a test! But always remember:

"It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well."

- Rene Descartes

Start the 30 min free IQ test here
Start here the most detailed free IQ test on the internet

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Comments (1)


231 days ago
nice i guess