What is IQ?

The term "Intelligence Quotient," or IQ, often arises in conversations about mental capability, academic potential, and even success in life. But what exactly is IQ? Is it simply a measure of how smart we are, or is there more to it?

In essence, IQ is a numerical score derived from several standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence. Coined by German psychologist William Stern in the early 20th century, the concept has become a significant factor in a broad range of fields, from psychology and education to job recruiting.

Understanding IQ isn‘t just about knowing your number. It‘s about exploring the fascinating ways our minds work, how we differ in our cognitive abilities, and how these differences can impact various aspects of our lives. In this article, we will delve into the origin of IQ, how it‘s measured, remarkable IQ records, and more.

History of IQ and Understanding Intelligence

The concept of IQ began with French psychologist Alfred Binet in the early 20th century, tasked by the French government to identify students needing extra educational support. Binet‘s test measured a student‘s mental age compared to their chronological age, laying the foundation for IQ testing.

The term ‘Intelligence Quotient‘ was coined by German psychologist William Stern and initially calculated as the ratio of mental age to chronological age, multiplied by 100. However, this method didn‘t fit adults well, leading to modern IQ tests like the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, designed for all ages.

Understanding IQ requires grasping ‘intelligence,‘ broadly defined as the ability to learn, reason, and solve problems. It‘s about understanding complex ideas, adapting effectively to the environment, and learning from experience. Intelligence encompasses a wide range of capabilities, not just academic or cognitive prowess.

IQ tests today attempt to measure a person‘s capacity for logical reasoning, problem-solving, and quick thinking, providing a ‘snapshot‘ of a person‘s cognitive ability.

How is IQ Measured ?

IQ is measured using standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence. Two of the most common are the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.

The Stanford-Binet test, an evolution of Alfred Binet‘s original test, measures five factors of cognitive ability: knowledge, quantitative reasoning, visual-spatial processing, working memory, and fluid reasoning. It generates an IQ score by comparing the test taker‘s performance to that of other people in the same age group.

The Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, on the other hand, evaluates verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed. It also compares the test taker‘s performance to age-specific norms.

In both tests, scores are designed to fall on a normal distribution, or a ‘bell curve.‘ The average score is set at 100, with about 68% of all scores falling within one standard deviation (15 points) of the average. This means that most people‘s IQ scores are expected to fall between 85 and 115. Scores above 130 are considered in the ‘Very Superior‘ range, and those below 70 in the ‘Very Low‘ range.

These tests provide a standard, consistent method to evaluate a person‘s cognitive abilities, though they certainly don‘t capture all aspects of human intelligence.

IQ Records and Extremes

Highest recorded IQ score

William James Sidis, an american chilf produigy, is alleged to have had an IQ score between 250-300, but this figure is largely speculative as he was tested using different methods and not modern scales. He could read The New York Times at 18 months and taught himself Latin and Greek by the age of 5.

Highest confirmed IQ score

According to the Guinness World Records, the highest IQ ever tested is 228 from Marilyn vos Savant, an american an author, lecturer, and playwright.

One of the highest childhood IQs

Kim Ung-yong reportedly scored 210 on an IQ test at age 4, although this test was not based on standard IQ testing norms. Born in South Korea, Kim is known for his early childhood proficiency in multiple languages and advanced mathematical abilities. Despite his high IQ, Kim often speaks about the importance of happiness over intelligence.

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