How to measure IQ and determine if yours is above average
- To have an average
IQmeans that you are within normal intelligencerange.
- According to the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, an average IQ score is between 90-109.
- However, average IQ varies widely depending on environmental factors like location.
Average IQ refers to the baseline score of the general population. Therefore, to have an average IQ means that you are within normal intelligence range.
However, don't worry too much about what your IQ score is, whether it's average or not. IQ scores are said to be great predictors of academic success and health, but they are also heavily criticized as poor indicators of overall intelligence because they cannot measure rationality, or the ability to make judgments in real-life situations.
Here's how average IQ varies depending on age, geographic location, and occupation.
What is IQ?
The intelligence quotient (IQ) score is a number that attempts to measure an individual's intelligence based on their test performance in the areas of verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, memory, and processing speed.
It does this by measuring your chronological age — how old you are in years — against your mental age, which is measured by how well you perform on an IQ test.
There are many different kinds of IQ tests that use various equations to calculate IQ, but the fourth edition of the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-IV) is considered to be the gold standard in measuring intelligence, which has the following score range:
- 130 and above: Very Superior
- 120 to 129: Superior
- 110 to 119: High Average
- 90 to 109: Average
- 80 to 89: Low Average
- 70 to 79: Borderline
- 69 and below: Extremely Low
When interpreted properly, intelligence testing in children can identify specific learning disabilities, helping educators find the most effective teaching methods. However, treating IQ test scores as the end-all of learning may be detrimental.
"Misuse of the IQ test score can promote a channeling effect where an individual with a low score might be assigned to classes that do not expect students to excel. This kind of channeling can compound itself over a course of years," says Louis Matzel, PhD, professor of psychology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.
It's important to note that many factors affect a person's IQ, including family income, place of residence, and even the amount of physical exercise you get. Therefore, always take IQ scores with a grain of salt.
Average IQ by geographic location
Culture, philosophy, and a country's overall approach to learning can deeply affect how their citizens perform on intelligence tests. That's why, average IQ can differ dramatically depending on where you're looking on the map.
Here are the countries with the five highest average IQ scores:
- 108: Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea
- 105: China, Japan, Taiwan
- 101: Iceland, Macau, Switzerland
- 100: Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, United Kingdom
- 99: Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Estonia, Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden
Interestingly enough, another variable that may affect IQ scores is rates of infectious disease. Experts predict that infection causes the body to invest more energy into immune function, to the detriment of brain growth.
And it turns out, a 2011 study found that the US states with lower average IQ had higher levels of infectious disease, even after taking wealth and educational variation into account.
Average IQ by occupation
Various career paths generally require different skill sets and ways of thinking, so it's no wonder that average IQ for one career will be different from another.
- Social scientists: 121.8
- Agricultural scientists: 121.6
- Mathematicians, biochemists, and chemists: 130
- Biologists: 126.1
- Medical practitioners: 127
- Physicists: 127.7
The researchers noted that IQ does not appear to be related to career success. Seeing as this study was small and conducted over 50 years ago, the results may be different under today's circumstances.
That said, some experts challenge the notion that IQ score is correlated to job performance — especially for complex jobs — and doubt its ability to predict how well a person will do in their profession.
How IQ tests originated
The Binet-Simon Scale, the first intelligence test, was created in 1905 by Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon. Binet was commissioned by the French government to develop a test that would identify low-aptitude students who can be placed in special schools.
"The IQ tests are about 100+ years old. Their history is problematic on many levels including its use with eugenics," says Daniel Wright, PhD, Dunn Family Endowed Chair and Professor of Educational Assessment at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Note: Eugenics is the attempt to influence the genetic composition of future generations by eliminating or "breeding out" undesired traits.
For example, in the early to mid 1900s, US eugenicists used IQ testing as a tool to promote racist-based segregation.
As a result, since the 1920s, Black scholars, among others, have challenged the validity of IQ tests and the ideology that Black people and certain ethnic groups are naturally mentally inferior. Many also argue that a single number can't stand for everything, says Wright.
At present, existing intelligence tests are constantly refined and improved to take research advances in neuropsychology into account. Even so, many still consider these traditional types of tests as outdated measures of human intelligence.
IQ scores vary from one individual to another and are affected by several factors. Although it can measure your abstract reasoning and logical thinking skills, it may not encompass the entirety of your mental abilities.
"Motivation, opportunity, and access to resources always matter more than a few points on an IQ test. Find out what you're good at, devote yourself to getting better at it, and do the best work that you can, and no one will ever wonder what your IQ score is," says Matzel.
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