Does Having A High IQ Necessarily Result In Being More Successful?

by Tony Michaels

Intelligence is defined as the global capacity to think rationally, act purposefully, and deal effectively. Some people believe intelligence is measurable through a number earned on a test called the Intelligence Quotient, or IQ.

It's a very standardized process of finding that number, which arguably measures your general intelligence level. But if you have a high IQ, are you guaranteed success? Let's find out.

How do I find my IQ?

An IQ is found by dividing an individual's mental age by the chronological age and multiplying the result by 100. Basically, a child of average intelligence, whose mental age and chronological age were the same, would have an IQ score of 100. If a 10-year-old child had the mental age of seven, then his IQ score would be 70. Mental age is determined through a standardized test of intelligence by way of the Stanford-Binet test.

A normal IQ score ranges from 85 to about 115, with an average score (obviously) of 100. Less than one-tenth of one percent of the population has very high or very low scores, generally seen as over 140, or under 55.

Okay, I have a high IQ. Will I be a guaranteed winner?

Okay, let me break it down. In 1921, a guy named Lewis Terman found 1,500 kids between the ages of eight and 12 who had IQ scores over 140, which is the minimum score for genius. Terman's main goal was to track them by conducting surveys and interviews throughout the lives of these now children to see if they were all destined to be a bunch of Zuckerbergs.

In just a few years, Terman found that these 'genius' children tended to be socially well adjusted, taller, stronger and healthier than the average child. Most of the children performed well in school, but how did they perform in the real world as adults?

In 1955, when the average income was just $5,000 annually, the average income for the group of people Terman was tracking was an astonishing $33,000. Sixty-six percent of them had graduated from college, and most of them had earned advanced professional or academic degrees.

Terman did find that even with these gifted children, a high IQ can definitely contribute to success, but intelligence alone was not enough. About a third of the group of children who he followed earned only slightly above the national average. This same third also had higher rates of being alcoholic, were less healthy, and were about three times as likely to get divorces as their two-thirds counterparts.

The bottom line is, intelligence will undoubtedly help you in all walks of life. Being able to control your environment through reasoning and rational, goal-directed behavior will obviously come to your aid in almost every aspect of your time on this planet.

But being smart is not enough. Many different factors are key to success: motivation, emotional stability, commitment to goals, and a willingness to work hard. None of these important attributes are measurable through a test, and certainly not the IQ test. So test away and be proud when you test over 140, you geniuses, but be skeptical of the implications. Your success isn't exactly part of your destiny.

"With the exception of moral character, there is nothing as significant for a child's future as his grade of intelligence." - Lewis M. Terman

Top photo credit: Limitless