General Question

juwhite1's avatar

What do you think IQ scores really reveal about a person's true potential?

Asked by juwhite1 (2971points) June 29th, 2009

For example, do you believe people with high IQ’s have more potential to be successful in life? Do you believe that EQ (emotional intelligence) or IQ is more important?

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43 Answers

Darwin's avatar

I think people who have high IQ scores are good at taking tests. However, without a high EQ score you probably won’t be as successful because success depends on other people either supporting what you do, helping you do it, or liking what you do.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

All the brains in the world won’t do a damn thing if one does not have passion and determination.

While Billy joe who dropped out of grade school and still writes his “Rs” backward is obviously going to have a harder time succeeding in a monetary or business aspect, success isn’t always about what car you drive.

lillycoyote's avatar

IQ scores measure one’s ability to score well on IQ tests, not much else. There are tremendous variations in type of intelligence and they don’t necessarily measure creativity, talent, musical ability, the ability to synthesize knowledge, etc.

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Darwin – Or liking you! It’s difficult to support someone one doesn’t like.

Book smarts, while very nice to have, is merely one aspect of intelligence and potential. Knowing how to get on with people and knowing how to direct your thoughts and emotions to maximize good outcomes for yourself and others are probably more important.

kevbo's avatar

Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers has some data on this question. If I remember correctly, the answer is that it doesn’t guarantee any measure of success, and that people with similar high IQ can vary wildly in their level of success depending upon their ability to politic/network/get along with others.

filmfann's avatar

IQ is just potential. Doesn’t mean accomplishment.

filmfann's avatar

@kevbo if I pressed Answer 2 seconds faster, I would have said it first. Fail!

Jayne's avatar

I do think that they have a legitimate link with one’s ability to solve purely intellectual problems. The tests select for skills in logic, visualization, pattern recognition, all the things needed to overcome cognitive challenges; good ones also require creativity. But the challenges of life and even academia are not simply cognitive; they require both the ability to understand how to direct oneself, which may or may not correlate with IQ, and the willpower to follow through on that, which many people with high IQ scores lack. So IQ is a good measure of someone’s ability in a limited range of activity; but unless fortune allows them to exist in that range alone, more is required.

kevbo's avatar

@filmfann, I had to press “Answer” twice to get it to take! I guess all’s fair in love and fluther. ;-)

Bri_L's avatar

@filmfann, @kevbo – so if we were to take your efforts to enter your answers, the number of words, accounting for connection quality and speed, then look at your IQs what would we learn?

seekingwolf's avatar

IQ is simply a measurement of how quickly you learn things and how much information you can hold.

Such is no indicator of success…success takes guts, hard work, determination, support, emotional maturity…blah blah I could go on and on.

It used to bother me when I was little that because my brother has Asperger’s, he has a higher IQ, thus would be more successful. Boy, was I wrong. He lacks discipline and never gets anything done…including his homework.

Don’t let a silly little number dictate what you can do with your life.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

I think the people who rank the highest on the IQ tests should make the next IQ test.

kevbo's avatar

@Bri_L, that we both spend entirely too much time on Fluther. Or that I do, at least.

juwhite1's avatar

@The_Compassionate_Heretic – Excellent Suggestion! Pretty soon, we’ll all be able to prove we are stupid. I think that would be good for deflating overly-developed egos.

tadpole's avatar

iq is so dry…but probably makes you a good bet for crosswords…and sudoku…...

dalepetrie's avatar

First off, let me say that I have an IQ that puts me well into what is considered the “Genius” level.

Having said that, I never found that number to be all that important. Let me tell you a bit about my career.

I got a 4 year degree in Accounting. I sat for, and passed the CPA exam. From there, what MOST people do is get hired by a CPA firm, spend a couple years going on audits, they they get licensed (passing the exam just gets you certified), and move up the ladder in the firm, start billing their time as a professional, until they make partner and get to own part of the firm and get their name added to it. And then you end up with the fancy cars and the huge mansion, etc., etc. And I was capable of doing that.

But to do that, I’d also have to have committed to working 80–120 hours a week. No thank you. That would take a drive, an ambition, a desire to do something. Yeah, I’d like to be rich, but being happy is far more important to me. And my free time makes me happy, keeps me sane. I like having a family and hobbies, time to watch movie and log onto Fluther or whatever is interesting to me at any given time.

So, I found a job, liked it for a while, found another, hated it, found another, got laid off, found another, got laid off, found another, got laid off, found another, got laid off, found another, and in February that company shut down, and now I’m just another unemployed Accountant. If I find a job, it will more than pay the bills, but it will not be what I could be making after 15 years as an Accountant.

The way I perceive IQ, and how I understand it is it’s more of a measure your ability to figure things out. When you look at the questions on the IQ test, you see it’s all about ability to think and figure out a relationship, or how something works. The more you are able to do that and the faster you are able to do it, the higher your IQ.

But that’s about it. My “high” IQ can help me in my work to figure out solutions to difficult problems…but that’s really the ONLY advantage it give me. It certainly hasn’t kept me off the unemployment lines several times.

And there are people with lower IQs who can memorize anything. There are people with lower IQs who have an assload of people skills…a lot of people can move up the ladder by being wheelers and dealers, you can be dumb as luggage if you’ve got those interpersonal skills. Everyone has something to offer, IQ is overrated it’s just one thing that sets you apart, doesn’t make you better or worse than anyone else.

Supacase's avatar

I think it can give them an edge on potential if the ambition is there.

My personal experience is that things came so easily to me for so long that I have never bothered to try for anything. I could whip up an A paper the night before it was due and it made me lazy. Now I procrastinate with everything and some things, like the laundry, are never “due” to the point of accountability. Who cares if it sits in the basket instead of getting put in the drawers? It’s just going to have to be washed again anyway.

I have a friend who readily admits she has had to work very hard to learn as much as she has and to be successful. If it had to be a trade off, I think I would rather have her dedication and determination than the ability to pick up things so easily. You can bet she puts her laundry away, too.

dalepetrie's avatar

@Supacase – I can relate.

madcapper's avatar

@Supacase I am exactly the same! Here’s just one example of me not caring to apply myself that turned out badly. My Sophomore year of college I had to take a Biology as a lab credit Gen Ed. Stupid because it is a 100 level course and nothing I could have learned I was not already taught in high school, and I am an art major so it was pretty pointless for me to learn about meiosis and mitosis, again! Anyway the class was a huge lecture class and had no attendance policy, after dozing through the first couple of weeks I stopped going, read the crap in the book the morning before the first exam and aced it, because well it’s basic biology and I probably could have not read and still got a B. Nothing complicated here. So I decided to simply not go to class and do the same for the mid-term. The problem arises when I stopped paying attention to even the syllabus and missed the mid-term automatically failing the class. my whole point is that something was so easy to me it made me unmotivated to try and so I wasted money by simply not showing up to class. Sometimes being able to process information easily has bitten me in the ass, such as this case. Haha
(FYI I am not bragging about my remedial Biology skills I am pointing out my laziness, just to make it clear)

mattbrowne's avatar

Here’s my rough picture of the factors contributing when ‘realizing one’s potential’:

30% IQ
30% EQ
30% discipline, stamina, perseverance
10% other factors (including pure luck like an influential person spotting talent)

madcapper's avatar

Funny my WoW character has exactly those stats! plus a +10 Bastard Sword of Hellfire…
I don’t even play WoW but I’m in a loopy mood right now :)

wundayatta's avatar

The answer to this question also depends on how you define success. It seems like most people are thinking of it in terms of earning achievement. I have a couple of other ways of thinking about it: happiness and status achievement.

One does not need money of much of anything else to be happy. All happiness requires is that you make yourself happy doing whatever it is you are doing. If you’re happy, what is the motivation to change? I guess, for most people, happiness is a moving target, and change is always a condition of future happiness, but again, that doesn’t have to have anything to do with money.

Similarly, there are other ways of achieving status besides making a lot of money. People do important altruistic work or art work, and may not make a lot of money at all, but are the kind of people that everyone wants to be around, and everyone admires and respects. Money may be a generally good way of measuring status, but it has many flaws. It also changes the general notion of what people think success means. Success starts to become seen as something that is measurable, rather than intuitive or personal.

IQ measurement is something that is culturally specific. That is, it measures one’s ability to answer questions that the questioners think are important. What is important depends on what the society thinks is important. In Western cultures, people value money and the best way to make money is to know how to do math and reading and logic and analysis well.

Logic and analysis may be universals across cultures, but math and reading are not. Intuition may be more important for success in some cultures. An ability to create compelling stories, or to make compelling movies may help one be successful. I don’t think IQ tests can measure anything related to these tasks. Can it measure creativity? I doubt it. Is traditional IQ related to creativity? I don’t know.

IQ, I believe, is a measure of what you know that is important within a culture. As such, one would expect it to be predictive of a potential for accomplishing things the culture values. However, it doesn’t measure drive or aggressiveness or inventiveness, and all these things are part of a person’s potential for success within a culture.

One’s intellectual capabilities are only part of a person, and only partially related to achievement of culturally specific success. I don’t know how much they are related to success. I think that IQ measures how well you can do on academic things. How well you can read and do math and be logical and analyze things.

If you need something analyzed, I’d take it to a person with high IQ. I’d want that person also to be responsive and motivated to help me. Those are EQ things, I guess. IQ doesn’t measure EQ, so it is still a poor approximation of a person’s potential or ability to accomplish anything, except, perhaps, study. But we know a lot of slackers and druggies who have very high IQs.

You might say that a person with high IQ might be interesting to talk to. Then again, they might only want to talk about one thing, or have poor social skills, or never listen. So, in the end, all IQ tells you for sure, is that the person knows how to take IQ tests, and is motivated to do well on them.

CMaz's avatar

IQ scores really reveal how insecure you are.

“I am what I am.”
– Popeye the sailor

MacBean's avatar

@ChazMaz has it. In my experience, most of us with genius-level or almost genius-level IQs will admit it if someone else brings it up and asks, but not so many are quick to flash an actual number in people’s faces. We know how snobby and superior that makes us sound, even if we’re not. The people who wave their number around like a flag are insecure and want to make sure you know how smart they are.

Example: My mother works at a convenience store. One of her co-workers is a 30-something guy who never managed to finish a degree, has never held any job before this one for more than a year, and who lives with his mother, who still packs his lunch and does his laundry and calls to check to see if/when he left work if he isn’t home on time. Frankly, I’m in a similar situation, only I’m totally jobless, but I fix my own meals. My method of convincing people that I’m not a completely pathetic loser (even though I totally am) is to provide examples of how I’m trying to fix my issues so I can function in society. His is to brag that he’s three IQ points away from genius. Clearly that makes him a great person! A better one than you, even! Peon! Bow before him!

LostInParadise's avatar

I think that IQ has meaning, but it may be more significant at a population level than at an individual level. Worldwide, IQ scores have been steadily rising, usually attributed to the increasing complexity of life. If that is indeed the reason then it would clearly mean that there is a strong environmental component to whatever it is that is measured by IQ.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I agree with @lillycoyote and would further add that they only determine your ability to score well at taking IQ tests on an unequal level. As we now understand the fact that people in upper classes score better as they have better training to take the tests (“training” refers to several elements and can vary greatly).

Bri_L's avatar

I have no idea what my IQ is. I am amazed how many people seem to know.

Also, where are the ones who say “my IQ is 100”?

I wonder if that says something about the people who take them. For the most part, do only people of a certain intellect even take the tests? Or are the ones who do and score well above average the only ones who want to say they do.

If I took it I would be ok saying my score. I mean, what part of my life would it ever come up in or affect if I got an average score and told?

Jayne's avatar

I’m a genius according to some random IQ test online. But somehow I doubt that means very much…

Bri_L's avatar

I took one. It said I was a cappuccino machine. What the hell was that about?

filmfann's avatar

@Bri_L Well, you look a little frothy…

Bri_L's avatar

@filmfann – Thanks, I’m feeling a little frothy.. Heheheh

MacBean's avatar

@Bri_L: Good question. My IQ was tested through school. Only the kids in the special education programs—“slow” and “gifted”—were tested. The “average” students were not.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

IQ scores are a simple measure to assess how well a person can make connections. They determine a persons ability to see relationships between things. You will find that learned philosophers, authors, artists and poets tend to have the highest IQ’s.

This is a reasonable mechanism that follows a predictable structure for building world views and public policy. It generally takes about 80 years for this to happen.

An artist, poet, or author will see relationships and connections that had previously been overlooked by society. They will express their findings through their craft. Philosophers get a hold of the premise and dissect it, analyze it, debate it, and eventually teach what’s left over to university students. Those students digest the new thought paradigm and enter the work force. As they grow and become industry leaders, the new thought paradigm begins to infect science, politics, law and religion.

We are currently living in an age that sprung from the thoughts of great thinkers from decades past. The great thinkers of today will not be fully embraced until decades from our current time. It takes a little while for thought seeds to grow, and that is a good thing. Many weeds will sprout up around that thought seed, and society needs time to clear them out so that only the best thoughts are grown.

You will also find that philosophers, authors, artists and poets tend to have the highest degree of emotional torment and are often depressed and very difficult to have any sort of meaningful relationship with.

Bri_L's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies – as I sit alone in my dark hole corner of the basement, in between fits of crying, pasty white for want of the sun, I am forced to agree with you.

wundayatta's avatar

I wonder if the idea that they are planting thought seeds is what keeps a lot of people around here.

They say there is a correlation between certain mental illnesses and high levels of creativity and connection making. I have no idea if there is actually any evidence to support this idea, or if it just to make crazy people feel better.

Some people see that many great thinkers have been depressed, and they think that if they get depressed, they’ll become a great thinker. If there is a relationship, I suspect the causality is the other way around. Great thinking puts you at greater risk for breaking the brain, so to speak.

No one who had ever suffered through it would want to be depressed in order to write the next great novel. The price of that novel could well be your life. That’s not a good trade, in my opinion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


No, it’s not a good trade at all. Anyone who has suffered through the creative process, pushing, tugging, stretching, bending can associate with the pain that @Bri_L refers to. Ultimately, the reward is presented only to those who get out of the way, removing themselves from the process.

Breaking the brain is well depictive of the fight. The depression comes when realizing that we were the ones standing in the way, preventing creativity from springing forth. Sad thing for a Jailer to be locked in his own cell, keys in hand, accusing those on the outside of being imprisoned. It breaks me to pieces on a regular basis.

I have no doubt there is a mental imbalance in there somewhere. Einstein supposedly couldn’t even tie his shoes… Rumors? A very depressing one.

CMaz's avatar

I know plenty of individuals sitting behind bars with a very high IQ.
I guess it comes down to using that power for good or evil.

tadpole's avatar

@daloon @RealEyesRealizeRealLies i agree….how to be creative without it affecting your health…..if one’s health is the most important thing one can have, what does this say about the importance and relativity of creativity….i have no solution….

Bri_L's avatar

I was just trying to gain some smarts by way of jokingly connecting a 2/3 accurate description of my office with RealEyesRealizeRealLies post

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


Jokes often reveal the greatest philosophies of all.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar


You must first unclench your fist.

Jayne's avatar

Ah, the universal gesture of brotherhood. How it warms my heart to see it!

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