10 Interesting Facts about IQ Tests

Since the 19th century, IQ tests have been the primary source for measuring human intelligence. Throughout the years, this standardized test has been used by psychologists and educators to predict an individual’s academic performance and career success, as well as diagnose mental retardation and learning disabilities. Even though its accuracy and reliability have been criticized over the past few decades, the IQ test continues to be the most widely used test for assessing mental ability. Here are 10 interesting facts about IQ tests:

  1. Men and Women’s IQ Scores Vary: Studies show that there is a slight difference in men and women’s IQ test scores. Although men and women are virtually equal in terms of IQ, men tend to score higher on certain sections, like spatial awareness, whereas women tend to score higher in language development and emotional intelligence. Despite the slight IQ variance between males and females, their overall intelligence is about the same.
  2. IQ is Related to Breastfeeding: Breastfeeding has been linked to raising children’s IQs and improving their academic performance. In 2008, a study was conducted to measure the effect of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development after following a group of children for 6.5 years. The children were given an IQ test to measure their academic performance and cognitive ability. Those who were breastfed had higher scores and better overall academic achievement.
  3. IQ Tests Were Primarily Used to Diagnose Mental Retardation: For the most part, IQ tests are used to measure intelligence and career success, but it was once primarily used to diagnose mental retardation. An IQ score below 70 was considered the benchmark for mental retardation, according to the Binet-Simon’s test from the early 1900s. The IQ test helped separate mental retardation from mental illness, both of which were poorly understood in the 19th century.
  4. IQ Tests Only Measure Certain Intellectual Skills: The IQ test only measures certain intellectual abilities, such as analytical, mathematical and spatial skills. The test does not measure creativity, artistic, leadership, emotional and social skills or other abilities that also define one’s intelligence. The IQ test has been criticized for not testing job-specific knowledge and skills, therefore, making it ineffective at measuring all levels of intelligence and career success.
  5. Tests Were Once Scored by an IQ Formula: Nearly 100 years ago, psychologists used to compute a person’s IQ by using an IQ formula that divided the mental age by the actual age of the test taker, then multiplied this number by 100 to get a whole number for the final score. This formula proved to be inaccurate when comparing adults. Modern scoring compares a person’s performance by their age group.
  6. IQ Tests Have Cultural and Ethnic Bias: One of the main criticisms of IQ tests is that they show bias against cultural and ethnic groups based on the questions asked in the test. The IQ test lacks sensitivity to different cultures and ethnic groups, specifically the differences between Eastern and Western views of intelligence. The current IQ tests don’t take into consideration the different cognitive styles, communication skills and values that each culture and ethnic group possesses.
  7. Environmental Factors Affect IQ: A person’s IQ can be affected by several different environmental factors, such as malnutrition, socio-economic status, stress, support structure and attitude. Scientists also find that the quality of education can have a major impact on IQ scores, as well. Students attending poorly funded schools often score lower than those at financially stable schools.
  8. Birth Order Does Not Influence IQ: The theory that eldest children are smarter and more likely to succeed than their younger siblings is just wrong. A child’s intelligence is not determined by the order in which they were born, but is more likely to be affected by their personality, gender, age difference, family size and parental age.
  9. IQ Tests are Fallible: IQ tests are far from perfect and may not be an accurate indicator of one’s intellectual potential. There are several reasons why IQ tests are fallible. They have been shown to possess a cultural and ethnic bias that affects individual’s scores, and they do not measure the different kinds of intelligence or skills that make someone gifted.
  10. IQ Scores Are Not an Exact Measure of Intelligence, Wealth or Career Success: IQ tests may have been designed to assess intelligence, but they aren’t an exact measure of intelligence, wealth or career success for everyone. Those who score higher than average on the IQ test may have greater reasoning abilities, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will be more successful or make a higher income. The same goes for those who score poorly.

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