IQ tests have long been known as a symbol and measure of intelligence. However, with new research and thoughts about the real meaning of intelligence, IQ scores still are not as relevant as in the past. Could there be a better way to determine intelligence?
The modern IQ test was created in 1904 through the combined efforts of Alfred Binet and William Stern, who developed the first test resembling a modern intelligence test and introduced the idea of intelligence quotient or IQ, according to an article written by Con Stough, a professor from the Swinburne University of Technology for the World Economic Forum.
Stough said that the formula for IQ is drawn from an assessment, such as Binet’s test, which was then divided by chronological age and multiplied by 100.
Virgo Handojo, professor of psychology, gave a little background on the history of IQ tests, highlighting a long and controversial history.
Handojo said that IQ tests were historically used in heinous ways, such as for the purpose of eugenics — to see who was allowed to have a child — as well as in immigration zones to see who would be allowed to enter the U.S. and who would be turned away.
“There are many different definitions of IQ but specifically, IQ is basically the power of the mind, or using reasoning to gain knowledge and also to process knowledge,” Handojo said. “Using reason, intellectual reasoning is IQ.”
Handojo also likened IQ to the idea of RAM in a computer, explaining how the higher a person’s IQ is, the better their processing skills and the greater their ability to solve varied problems.
“Both traditional intelligence tests and contemporary ideas about multiple intelligences are useful when used properly,” said Laura Freeman, professor of psychology.
“Traditional intelligence tests can be a helpful tool for identifying strengths and growth areas for people, which can assist in diagnostic ideas and obtaining helpful resources. Theories of multiple intelligence can be helpful in identifying strengths that are not typically associated with academics.”
Freeman also said there are some disadvantages to both the traditional model of IQ testing and the alternative and contemporary approach to multiple types of intelligence. She said a potential disadvantage is that “it can leave some people feeling labeled or ‘put in a box.’”
Freeman advised that anyone curious about their IQ should reach out to a “trustworthy, licensed clinician, who can help interpret the results in helpful and meaningful ways, customized to each person.”
Tyanna Schneider, sophomore psychology major, shared that she does not believe IQ tests are the best way to measure and record intelligence.
“It is mostly just how well of a test taker someone is,” Schneider said. “It has a few factors that can be beneficial for a few things, but confidence and nerves can affect a person’s test-taking abilities and overall not provide the best understanding of one’s potential and what they’re capable of.”
Kasinda Thompson, junior psychology major, explained that the human approach dampens the functions and full potential of these intelligence tests.
“IQ tests only measure how well they take the test and can easily have flawed results,” Thompson said. “It can tell a short story of intelligence but not the full picture.”