Top 7 Misconceptions About Intelligence and Intelligence Testing
The following are just some of the faulty beliefs that keep people from taking intelligence tests:
Misconception # 1: A Person's Intelligence Level is Fixed.
Not true. A person's level of intelligence is actually fluid; it can go up or down. Consequently, the same person can have different IQ test scores during the various stages of his or her lifetime.
While heredity determines a person's range of intelligence (that is, some people are genetically disposed to reach higher intelligence levels than other people), intelligence still depends on a person's learning and experiences.
Political Studies professor James Robert Flynn discovered what is now known as the Flynn effect: the finding that since the early 20thcentury, IQ scores all over the world increase at around 9 points every 30 years! Many explanations have been put forward for this phenomenon: better schools, more conscientious parenting, increased access to audio-visual media. But whatever the reason is, it's environmental! If intelligence is purely genetic, no such dramatic changes in IQ scores would occur over the years!
Which brings us to the good news: you can become more intelligent!
Misconception # 2: There is Nothing You Can Do to Be More Intelligent
Many fear taking an intelligence test because they think: "Well, what's the use? If I'm not bright, I'm not bright. I'd rather not have it confirmed!"
As mentioned previously, intelligence is fluid rather than permanent. And there are many things that we can do to be more intelligent!
Studies have shown that people who do what they can to maximize learning, who constantly practice skills related to various aspects of intelligence e.g. critical-thinking, and who have an attitude open to input, experience steady increases in their level of intelligence. Some strategic school interventions, such as student-centered teaching, also help.
This is an important finding!
We know how a person's intelligence level can help him or her function better in life. Intelligence can help a person succeed in school, at work, or at any hobby or pursuit. It's therefore liberating to know that you can grow in intelligence - and that you can feel more confident, more capable and more empowered than you do right now!
That we can increase our intelligence is actually the best reason why we should take IQ tests. If we can get our intelligence level assessed at an early age, we can immediately diagnose areas where we need improvement - and consistently work at those areas.
If we're struggling with a task for example, wouldn't it help to know early that our IQ could be a factor, so that we can do what we can to lessen our difficulty? Why would we let ourselves continue to struggle when something can be done? In the meantime, we can make reasonable accommodations to make sure we are supported as we work on our IQ level. It would then bring such a feeling of relief that our struggle is temporary, and is of no fault of our own.
More so, taking intelligence tests regularly can help us evaluate whether the techniques that we are doing are actually effective in unleashing our utmost intellectual potential. IQ scores over a period of time are actually a good gauge in assessing the effectiveness of teaching styles, study habits and learning methodologies. More so, adults can assess whether one's lifestyle is actually contributing to the enrichment - or the deterioration! - of one's intelligence.
Misconception # 3: Intelligence Can't Be Tested
While there are those who dislike intelligence testing because of fear of being boxed in, there are others who dislike them, well, because they're skeptical! They don't really believe that something as complex as intellectual capacity can be measured by a simple pen or paper test, or a 30-minute hands-on simulation.
To some extent, this is true. One can never really 100% measure intelligence; it's an abstract rather than a concrete concept, no different from a feeling or an attitude. You can't measure intelligence in the same way you can't measure how much another person loves you, or how creative your boss actually is.
But you can take a sample of intelligence: measure it based on how it is applied or manifested. You get a good idea of how much another person cares for you through the way they communicate their concern for your well-being. You can measure your boss' creativity by giving him or her problems to solve. While the test items don't capture the totality of what is being measured, they're still good enough scales for an estimate close to accurate.
After all, intelligence is correlated to both potential for learning and actual learning. By measuring these two, a reliable measure of intellectual ability may be obtained. More importantly, since IQ scores are based on a comparison with how the rest of the population does with the same questions or problems, the measure of intelligence provided by IQ tests are actually more scientific than some people give it credit.
Misconception # 4: IQ Tests Don't Measure Intelligence
This one is related to the previous misconception discussed. There are those who don't like getting their intelligence tested because they think that IQ exam items don't really measure what it's supposed to measure.
Psychologists have different ways of coming up with standardized examinations; and these ways are all rigid and controlled. In fact, it took decades of research and study to come up with the principle behind many of the intelligence tests used today. All of these ways are designed to increase IQ tests' validity (ability to measure intelligence) and reliability (ability to measure the same thing over time).
The cynicism really lies on how a pen and paper test can measure an abstract concept. And the answer discussed in the previous section applies. The test may be pen and paper, but they employ sampling - that is, sampling of questions most other people of the same age and background can accomplish without any hitch.
So, no. "Academics" don't arbitrarily create questions out of the blue, to discriminate against those who think differently. Instead, it's still the general population who determines which IQ questions make the cut, and which are eliminated.
Misconception # 5: Intelligence is A More Diverse Concept than What IQ Tests Can Measure
Some don't like IQ tests because they're limited.
This one is actually true. At the moment, theorists are still debating whether intelligence is just one general thing, or is it a combination of many different components. For example, Howard Gardner who coined the term Multiple Intelligence believes that intelligence isn't just composed of language and math capabilities; musical ability, sports ability, and interpersonal ability among other things, are also part of intelligence. Both sides of the issue have valid points, that the right thing to say is that both sides are correct. In practice, many IQ tests have subscales, and resulting IQ scores can be general IQ scores or IQ scores particular to one subscale of intelligence, e.g. verbal, numerical, memory, etc.
You can choose the IQ test that fits your needs. Some IQ tests measure general intelligence; others measure subscales. Different tests have different subscales depending on the intelligence theory where the test had been based. Pick based on your objective for being tested.
Misconception # 6: Educators and Employers Use IQ Results to Keep People in Line
Ah, the system.
There are people who distrust intelligence tests, not because they don't find them valuable, but because they've had a bad experience with IQ tests in the past. Perhaps you felt pressured in school, because your teacher expects too much/ is not expecting enough from you based on your IQ score. Perhaps you felt that the reason why you didn't make the cut for a promotion is because of your intelligence test results. Or maybe you were identified as a person with special needs because of an IQ examination. For sure, bad experiences like these can leave a bitter taste in people's mouths.
It helps to know that IQ tests are just instruments; that is, how well they work depends on how people use them. Ideally, those who administer, score, and interpret IQ tests must know how to use IQ results properly and ethically. Being a psychometrician requires a license, a proof that you went through the rigorous training required to administer psychological exams. Because used correctly, intelligence tests are actually constructive for an individual's personal, academic and professional development.
Misconception # 7: It's Better Not to Know One's IQ
Lastly, many people are hesitant to take IQ tests because they feel that doing so would just result in a self-fulfilling prophecy: that is, if you knew your IQ is lower compared to other people, then you would not bother trying as hard as you can; if you knew your IQ is higher than most, you also would not feel motivated because you think you already have it made. And if your score falls within the norm, well, being average is said to make people complacent.
Hopefully, the refutations of the first two misconceptions -that (a) intelligence level is permanent, and that (b) you can't do anything to increase your intelligence - are enough to cancel this misconception out too.
What a person does with his or her IQ score depends on them. Certainly, they can result to poor self-esteem and low motivation if they are interpreted negatively. But definitely they can lead to great things, if used correctly - and approached with an open, positive attitude! So, do get your IQ Score tested right now!
Joe is the creator of many popular online IQ Test sites including IQTestForFree.com.
Filed Under: Intelligence