IQ Means . . . IQ (Nothing More)

In a previous post, I discussed researchers using IQ testing to explore the impact of birth order on personality. The researchers discovered no impact, mostly because they could discover no measurable differences regarding the Big Five Personality Traits: Openness, Conscientious, Extraversion, Agreeableness, Neuroticism.

In the interests of due diligence, they split Openness into IQ and Creativity.

IQ was the only factor that produced any quantifiable differences--though those differences were negligible. The researchers of the study were less than enthusiastic about this result. And here's why:

IQ as a determiner of anything except IQ has long been disputed. It has no definitive link to grades or any type of career/academic success. A recent study concluded, for instance, that "achieving good grades depends on many factors other than IQ, such as 'persistence, interest in school, and willingness to study.'"

Researchers have also discovered that context is a huge determinant in how well people do in certain areas--for instance, they found that women who could do math quickly and easily in a store in regards to a sales item had trouble doing that same math in a testing situation. Likewise, they found drug dealers could process complex math--outside of the classroom--with little difficulty. "Street smarts" is a real thing.

This is compounded by the fact that IQ changes--within cultures, with age as well as with an increase in skill-sets. It is not the "now you have it/you're a genius" factor imagined by IQ advocates in the mid-twentieth century. Genius actually doesn't work that way.

Unfortunately, often times, the assumption that IQ equals high performance creates its own self-fulfilling prophecy, i.e. students who test high receive more attention and access to resources and consequently, increase their abilities/skills. But the true impact was likely the attention and the resources, not the initial IQ score.

Even that last statement, however, is debatable. Me--I'm a maverick. I think outcome/performance is all about free-will. That is, nearly all studies that try to ground personality/long-rang results in genetic inheritance or in environmental impact inevitably come up empty: there is a failure of direct correlation, an inability to show that A definitively led to B, which is probably the reason that sociology drives hard scientists crazy.

1 comment:

FreeLiveFree said...

I tend to think that any personality trait is a combination of three factors: Heredity; environment, and free will. Free will tends to get get short shift because how do you scientifically measure it?!

I really like that Dilbert strip.