Do IQ Tests Really Test Your Intelligence?

Is intelligence something we are born with, do you improve your IQ when you improve our memory, or is it something we can learn from our environment? Some studies suggest we get our intelligence from our mothers, while others say that we get it from our fathers. Does our environment increase our intelligence or can it decrease it? It seems intelligence is not simply a matter of mind over matter, but a combination of genetics, surroundings and our willingness to seek answers in order to increase our number of brain cells and expand our intelligence.

When taking an IQ test, how often did you see an answer that you liked better, but chose the one you thought would get the “right” score?

It seems that intelligence is measures by two criteria — fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. Fluid intelligence is problem solving and general reasoning — otherwise referred to as executive function or working memory. Crystallized intelligence is associated with knowledge.

Depending on the IQ test given the result may vary. Most of them measure both fluid and crystallized intelligence, but testing shows wide variances when comparing crystallized intelligence   – due to educational opportunities, culture, language and other outside variables. For instance: white youths who come from high incomes tend to score higher on the crystallized intelligence section of the tests than do minority youths from the ghetto. Some tests indicate that even fluid intelligence can be significantly affected by environmental and emotional factors.

If this is true, than how accurate are IQ tests?

One theory sees intelligence in terms of adaptation. Of course it has to do with analytical and reasoning, but is it evaluated according to the culture of the evaluating system, or according to the environment in which it is tested? “What constitutes intelligence depends upon what the situation demands” (Tuddenham 1963).

If I had spent my childhood playing with construction toys, such as Lego’s, would I be better at spatial relations? If I played with a “Little Professor” calculator that helps you to learn math skills and advances you as you proceed, would I not have a better score in math than those who had no devices?

Or, were you born with natural talents, such as an ear for music that makes you stand out and excel in society? Does that mean you are more intelligent than a person whose skills are more toward writing? Its all what society deems to be acceptable forms of intelligence.

Often people we now refer to as creative geniuses were scorned during their lifetime as odd, eccentric or even stupid because they did not adapt to the norms of their society. Even people like Albert Einstein, who many believe was the smartest man who ever lived was told by teachers he was “stupid” and would never amount to anything. Simply because a person does not adapt to social norms does not make him or her any less intelligent than anyone else.

Here is a great story to illustrate what I mean:

Joe Glick was an anthropologist who was studying the Kpelle tribe in Africa. He tried to give the adults an intelligence test, so asked them to sort items into categories. Instead of sorting them in “taxonomic categories,” such as apples and oranges for fruit they sorted them into functional categories, such as apples as food.

In American our children sort things in the functional way, but adults usually sort them taxonomically. Try as he might Glick could not get them to categorize items the way he thought they should be. After awhile he simply thought they were not mentally capable of doing the task.   As a last resort, he asked them how a stupid person would do this task. Without hesitation, they sorted the items into taxonomic categories!

In their culture taxonomic categories has no practical function, and it was stupid. So, do standardized IQ tests actually test your intelligence, or simply compare what you know about accepted society answers?   The most obvious, and simplest, explanation is that much of what is tested in IQ tests is either directly or indirectly taught in school. This is quite a dilemma. Is there actually a gauge for intelligence? I prefer to think each person has the potential to raise their intelligence level every time they improve their memory. What you get on an IQ test does not define your intelligence.

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