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Expert Comment: Playing the IQ numbers game

IQ TEST 150X150 Monday 22 June 2015

Dr Stefan Koehn, Lecturer in Sport Psychology, explains why playing the numbers game doesn’t always work when it comes to measuring IQ.  

IQ tests play a vital role in many aspects of daily life. Originally developed by Binet and Simon in 1905 in the area of special education, in an attempt to identify children with such needs, today the utility of IQ tests spans across various domains, such as economic (selection of personnel), military (identification of leadership qualities), judiciary (sentencing to capital punishments), or educational (decision criterion for higher education acceptance or eligibility for subsidised special education) systems. 

The diversity of human intelligence is considered multi-dimensional, measured in verbal and mathematical intelligence, as well as musical, physical, and social intelligence. The aspect of multiple intelligences indicate that intelligence is multi-faceted rather than one-dimensional. Therefore, the measurement metric of performance in a specific area and classifications such as average, IQ of 100, giftedness, IQ above 130 (i.e. two standard deviations above the average), or impairment, IQ below 70 (i.e. two standard deviations below the average), need to be viewed with caution.

One interesting aspect of intelligence testing is the general increase in people’s IQ over time and between generations. This phenomenon has been labelled as the Flynn effect.  A recent meta-analysis investigated the Flynn effect over the past 100 years, including a total of almost four million participants from over 30 countries (Pietschnig & Voracek, 2015).

Although increases in IQ varied according to the domain, people’s gain in IQ scores advanced between 0.21 and 0.41 IQ points annually. Life history speed appears to be mainly responsible for this effect, including substantial changes in education, nutrition, stress, and family size over the past century.

High academic achievement, however, is not necessarily related to a high IQ. Research suggested that the individual differences in achievement among students with the same IQs were accounted for by motivation, self-discipline and practice.

Psychology at Liverpool Hope 

Dr Stefan Koehn - Sports Psychology Research at Liverpool Hope

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