Can You Really Measure Intelligence with a Test?

There are several different types of tests that are developed to measure intelligence but professionals are beginning to question whether or not such a feat is even possible. Even though the intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are created to measure innate intelligence rather than experiential smarts, there are still many holes in the theory behind the practice. For example, what about people who have test anxiety or are perhaps not completely focused the day of the test?

Also, IQ tests don’t seem to be an entirely accurate indicator or success, either. People with higher intelligence scores don’t always do as well as those who score lower. Finally, it’s becoming obvious that we’re outgrowing our own testing methods. Are we getting smarter or are the tests only adapted for the culture of the 1950’s, when they were created?

intelligence quotient

Click here to see subject expert Josh Freedman discuss intelligence quotient tests versus emotional intelligence tests.

Intelligence Testing is Born

Back in the 1950’s, IQ tests were developed in order to determine what level children were at in order to meet their needs educationally. The scores were also used to target the area of need for each child in order to make that child more proficient. They were never intended to be used as a detrimental tool to hold children back – in fact, just the opposite was true. The test’s only original purpose was to identify strengths and weaknesses in order to develop individual curriculums to help each child progress

The most frequiently-used test is the Stanford-Binet test which has a baseline score of 100 for those of “average” intelligence. This isn’t a percentage, though. 10 standard points makes a significant difference in intelligence levels; in fact, a score of 70 is considered borderline developmentally disabled. The way that the test was designed, your score should be the same throughout your life.

The Flynn Affect

In 1984, a New Zealand philosopher noticed while examining IQ scores that 18-year-old Dutch men had taken a huge leap in intelligence from the previous generation. This compelled him to check other data and he realized that intelligence was increasing at a rate of about 3 points per decade across the globe.

People try to explain it with improved nutrition, improved administration or better testing conditions but Flynn is convinced that people are simply getting smarter. The increases have begun to slow down in the Western world but continue to rise in developing countries. If you think about it objectively though this isn’t particularly surprising because testing and teaching methods can only improve so much.

What this does seem to support, though, is that the test was a bit skewed toward the culture in which it was originally developed.

A Test For All People?

This is perhaps the biggest issue that many people have with IQ tests. Many detractors say that there’s no way that one test can equally measure every single person’s intelligence, namely because people are different and there is no single component that can be used to measure cognitive or or mental performance in general.

The three components that combine to create a person’s cognitive makeup include reasoning, verbal skills and short-term memory, all of which are difficult to test in conjunction.

Emotional Testing Better Indicator of Success

Many corporations like to use IQ scores as an indicator of future success but research is indicating that emotional testing is a better indicator of how well a person will perform at work. Studies are proving that a high IQ is only useful to for hiring people who have the basic skills to get the job done.

After people are hired to a position, the ones that will rise to the top as leaders and strong employees are the ones with high emotional intelligence. Even if a person with high emotional intelligence has a slightly lower IQ than the person in the next cubicle, he or she will advance faster through the ranks than the less-emotionally-mature smarter person next to them.

To sum it up, IQ tests are a good tool to use if you’re just looking for general information about whether or not a person is smart enough to do the job. If you’re looking for leaders and strong employees, take a closer look at their emotional intelligence.

To learn more about this, check out best-selling author and subject expert Josh Freedman’s video, real data, as he discusses intelligence quotient versus emotional intelligence.

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