Contributed by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD, DLFAPA
My friends and patients ask me what IQ tests mean. Here are the facts.
Years ago, psychology workers invented various tests that they measure the level of the performance of the various faculties of our brain. These faculties include memory, discerning relationships between similar entities, general knowledge, and simple calculations. These devised questions posed to a very big number of people of the same age — say 10-year-olds; from there, they took the average responses and then declared it as the “normal” for that particular age.
Then, arbitrarily, they gave the number 100. So if a person has an IQ of 100, it means that the majority of their peers of the same age respond similarly. If a child of 10 responds similarly to the group of 11-year-olds, the child now has an IQ of 110. If a child of 10 responds correctly to the majority of answers that are usual for a 13-year-old, then the child has an IQ of 130.
Here are some questions we ask:
- On memory, repeat a series of numbers forwards and backwards.
- Repeat a long sentence correctly.
- For judging relationships, we pose entities that are similar. For instance, how are a tree and a fly alike? They are both alive, of course. Or a more difficult one: how are the beginning and the end alike. They both contain something in between, they are both markers, and they both define an entity.
The IQ test has shortcomings, some people say very heavy ones, making it useless. First, for instance, children from different cultures may not be familiar with a question of knowledge that is very common knowledge to the children of another culture. For instance, “Who wrote The Odyssey?” The answer is Homer, and will be familiar to all European children, especially those of Greek origin, but not so for children in South Africa.
Similarly, children from the United State may not know about Zulu wars
Second, the IQ itself is useless if it is not utilized appropriately. Temperament and early training — in terms of expectations and tenacity — are of paramount importance in how you utilize your IQ, even if it is considerable.
Furthermore, creative ability to think differently, to discern patterns and relationships, is not always related to the IQ; though a high IQ helps, mostly it relates to the temperamental deployment of an individual. For instance, inner-directed children who have a tendency to contemplate and think the world, so to speak, will be able to discern mathematical relationships and patterns, which is a characteristic of a scientist. A social person who feels the world will have more of a social competence and skills, hence able to manage people better. A short-tempered, impatient, inner-directed contemplative person will not be so.
Discipline, expectations, and exposure to new knowledge does help to increase an IQ and employ it more usefully. Strange as it may sound, over the last decades, the IQ of people in general is going up, while our brain is getting smaller! Go figure.
Copyright © 2016 by Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD
For more information on Dr. Pediaditakis and his Raleigh NC mental health clinic, visit his Facebook page.
Dr. Nicholas’ blog may be read at chroniclersofthesoul.com.
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