11 Uncomfortable Facts About How IQ Affects Your Life

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We’d like to think that IQ isn’t the determining factor for success in life.But psychology professors David Hambrick and Elizabeth Meinz recently wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times, “Sorry Strivers, Talent Matters,” where they cite a few scientific studies that point to innate talent — not practice — as what separates the good from the great.

This is a bummer for many of us who want to believe that putting in the work will yield successful results. And not to say it doesn’t: it just can’t compete with outright intelligence.

Another unpopular idea is that of intelligence quotient (IQ) tests being an accurate barometer of a person’s smarts (the Op-Ed also points out that SAT tests are pretty good measures of IQ).This all goes against recent thinking on the subject — including Malcolm Gladwell’s thesis in Outliers, which says that hard work is a key predictor of one’s success.

As it turns out, many factors throughout our lives affect our IQ scores — and conversely, our IQ scores can greatly affect the outcome of our lives.

Genetics make up an estimated 40 to 80% of a person's IQ

Despite the environmental effects on IQ, heritability still plays a bigger role in determining overall IQ.
Environmental factors can mean the loss or gain of a few points here or there, but it pales in comparison to what you're born with.

Source: University of Delaware

Contrary to popular belief, the higher your IQ, the more likely you're socially smart

Of course, correlation does not prove causation. But IQ is strongly correlated to educational, professional, economic and social success or failure. It's difficult to say what exactly IQ tests measure beyond 'general' intelligence, but those with a high score see positive outcomes in education and social competence, so it can't be too bad.

Source: University of Delaware

Junk food diets for kids under three can lead to lower IQs

Children who ate processed junk foods before the age of three were shown to have a lower IQ than their peers by the time they were eight years old. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals was shown to do the opposite.

Source: National Post

Breastfeeding can increase a child's IQ by three to eight points

Going beyond the control factors of a baby's closeness with their mother during breastfeeding, children who are breastfed have an IQ three to eight points higher by age three than their non-breastfed peers.

Source: Psychology Today

Summer vacation can drop your IQ

Missing school in general means a lower overall score. In Sweden, students that dropped out of school early lost 1.8 IQ points for each year they missed.

A study in South Africa showed that for every year of delayed schooling, a child's IQ dropped by five points.

And separate studies saw drops in a student's end-of-the-year IQ score after summer vacation.

Source: Psychology Today

People with a lower-than-average IQ (between 75 and 90) are more likely to drop out, go to jail and live in poverty

Significantly more, in fact: people in the 75 to 90 range are 88 times likelier to drop out of high school, seven times more likely to go to prison, and five times more likely to live in poverty than those with an IQ over 110.

Source: Mega Foundation

For each one-point increase in a country's average IQ, the per capita GDP was $229 higher, and can go up to $468 higher for each additional point

A recent article in Psychological Science revealed that in a study of 90 countries, the 'intelligence of the people, particularly the smartest 5 per cent, made a big contribution to the strength of their economies.'

While it should be stressed that 'smart' and 'high IQ' are not synonymous, it is worth noting that there were hard numbers behind that assertion.

Source: Psychological Science

Lower IQ scores are linked to more suicidal feelings

Though there are multiple factors at work, Swedish researchers have drawn a link between lower IQ scores and suicidal feelings.

Low IQs can mean bad problem-solving abilities, which makes people less capable of dealing with stress in crisis situations.

Source: Scientific American

If you have an IQ of at least 115, you can do any job

People with low and high IQ scores can work almost any job at almost any level. But it becomes increasingly difficult to perform well in very complex or fluid jobs (such as management in an ambiguous, changing, unpredictable fields) with a lower IQ. An IQ over 115 places no restrictions on what you can do.

On the other hand, unskilled work doesn't require a high IQ, as only simple decisions need to be made.

Source: University of Delaware

When you have a higher IQ, you're more confident

Successful people -- in business, in athletics, in life -- can tell you that confidence is half the battle. Having a certain IQ may not tell the whole story, but the popular conception is that it does, and that can be devastating or emboldening, depending on your number.

Those who believe they are smart, and who have 'proof,' will push themselves to live up to those expectations. Those who don't may be haunted by their score, and convinced that they are doomed to a life of mediocrity. And if you believe it, you can achieve it (or in this case, you don't achieve it).

Source: University of Delaware

Creativity is also measured in an IQ test

Creative potential can be revealed in an IQ test. As argued by Dr. Scott Kaufman, 'thoughtful reasoning, divergent production, pattern detection, learning' are all part of the creative process, and are measured in an IQ test.

Though it isn't readily apparent, test administrators can detect problem solving styles and test interpretation in their subject, which can help explain why a creative student may have trouble with the standardized IQ test.

Source: Psychology Today

Though perhaps this would be a better measure of intelligence

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