My Executive


    Dec 04, 2013

    Is a high IQ a predictor of success?

    A SPEECH by London Mayor Boris Johnson has raised the issue of IQ and how it relates to success. So just how important is it?

    Mr Johnson's comments about IQ in a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies on Nov 28 have attracted criticism but they have also raised a big question - does IQ matter when it comes to wealth and being successful in business?

    Huge amounts of research have been done on IQ - intelligence quotient - and many claims made about it.

    Holidays and junk food can make IQ drop, while being breastfed and having a big head can make it go up. These are just a few assertions discussed in an article in Psychology Today.

    IQ tests as we know them today were developed in the early 1900s, the first being the Stanford-Binet intelligence scales.

    Many have since been developed and measure slightly different things, say psychologists. The Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler intelligence scales remain the most popular.

    The average IQ score in Britain is 100, according to British Mensa. But even if you score at the lower end of the scale, all is not lost as IQ can change, say experts.

    "Given different environments and opportunities, IQ can develop and grow," says Professor Joan Freeman, a developmental psychologist who runs a dedicated practice for gifted children. "Something as simple as a bad cold can make IQ go down temporarily."

    Also, IQ is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to being a high earner. A study by Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research is among several that suggest IQ has no relationship to wealth.

    This is because the tests measure only a person's cognitive ability and being successful is about much more, says Prof Freeman.

    "IQ tests don't measure other qualities such as personality, talent, persistence and application. You might not have a high IQ, but if you have a gung-ho personality then you may use what you have more effectively than someone with a high IQ.

    "I regard IQ like a muscle; you may be born with the muscles of an Olympian, but if you don't use them they will diminish."

    Which leads to the next big question - is going to the mental gym as hard as going to a physical one? Let's hope not.