What is an IQ test? How it is the measure


There is not just one, but several. The process is the same: a series of questions that you have to answer in a set amount of time. The result should calculate your intelligence and, based on that, how successful you will be in life. But are we sure a test is enough?

Do you know what intelligence is ? And how is it measured? These are not such trivial questions if you think that not even scientists have yet managed to find the answer. The most accredited definition is that intelligence is the ability to adapt one’s thinking in the face of changing circumstances, to achieve certain objectives.

But this description generally appears very vague. More than in the singular, in fact, we should speak in the plural. Raymond Cattell, an English psychologist who died in 1998, proposed a model based on two intelligences : fluid and crystallized. The first is the ability to solve problems without resorting to previous knowledge, while the second refers to the use of culture and notions acquired through experience to find a solution.

The intelligence quotient (IQ) tests aim to measure these two faculties, using a scale and a series of standardized scores. Over time, the results that emerged have found confirmation or aroused some criticism . What was immediately evident is that a single questionnaire is not able to determine with certainty when a person is intelligent and how successful he will be in life.

How an IQ test works

There is not just one IQ test, but a series of different tests that start from the same basic idea: a finite number of questions that a person has to answer in a certain amount of time, to get a score on a scale of 0 . to more than 100.

  • Between 85 and 115 points : able-bodied individual, a range in which the majority of the population falls
  • Between 70 and 85 points : some difficulties are noted
  • Less than 70 points : This is an individual with mental retardation problems
  • More than 115 points : a gifted plus individual, with an above average capacity

It seems that Albert Einstein even reached 160 points. The child prodigies, of whom we had already told you about Ohga, certainly exceed the normal score .

But how is this result determined? The two most used tests are the Raven Matrices and the Wechsler Scales . The first puts a series of figures in front of you and asks you to find the missing one. The questions increase in difficulty as you answer and evaluate your ability to analyze, code, interpret and understand the circumstances. The result should measure your fluid intelligence .

The Wechsler scales, on the other hand, also measure the crystallized one . They are always based on the completion or reproduction of images and color sequences, but also on notions learned in school or on the ability to process them verbally. They also measure the speed you have in processing information and working memory, i.e. how long you can remember a piece of information you have just learned.

In theory, these tests are able not only to assess your intelligence, but also to predict how successful you will be in life based on your abilities.


A brief history of the IQ test

Tests to measure intelligence have existed since 1905, when Alfred Binet, a French psychologist, conceived and published the Binet-Simon Scale . It was used to calculate the mental age of the child and was used to immediately understand which pupils needed the most support at school.

But it was the German psychologist William Louis Stern who coined the term ” IQ ” and defined a formula that would allow for a score based on an average set at 100 . This way, it would have been easier to compare people of different ages.

The first test for adults came in 1939 thanks to David Wechsler who devised the famous scales to measure lexical skills, that is, of general knowledge, understanding of the text and knowledge of words, and skills such as that of quickly identifying some visual details or making correct logical-sequential associations.

Is a test enough?

The intelligence tests actually garnered more criticism than applause. A score obtained thanks to a series of questions that are the same for all does not take into account, for example, environmental factors and the education that a child has received.

In 2013, the University of Western, Canada, conducted an online experiment , which was attended by over 100,000 people from all over the world. Researchers have come to the conclusion that a single test is misleading and to truly measure a person’s intelligence requires tests that evaluate several aspects.

The differences in the results in fact depend on three parameters : short-term memory, reasoning skills and speech skills. It basically means that if you can’t remember which year

 the Eastern Roman Empire fell, it doesn’t mean you’re not smart.

And the rational one is not the only form of knowing that you have. David Goleman, psychologist and professor at Harvard University, in the 90s formulated the theory of emotional intelligence : the ability to manage your emotions and transmit them to others, to modulate your moods, to motivate you itself, controlling your impulses, postponing gratification, and being empathic have helped you in your life just like your intellect. Intelligence is therefore a combination of cognition and emotion .

If you think about it, the success you have achieved was, of course, thanks to your knowledge and your ability to reason, but it is also thanks to your ability to work together with others, to create sincere bonds, to be determined and to find the support of other people. In short, not getting a great score on a theoretical question means very little in reality.


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