What does IQ measure?

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zenten
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What does IQ measure?

Postby zenten » Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:37 pm UTC

I thought I remembered it testing your ability to do grad school, but I might have confused that with another test, as wikipedia doesn't seem to mention anything about that.

So, what does it measure? And saying "intelligence" doesn't help unless you can define that in a concrete way.

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Postby Macbi » Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:41 pm UTC

Your ability to do I.Q. test type puzzles.
The reason clever people do well is because they tend to enjoy doing those types of puzzles, and so have practise.

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Postby Nevea » Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:11 pm UTC

The grad school test you're thinking about is the SAT. Although, colleges are putting less and less emphasis on those scores nowadays.

Anyways, IQ tests (there are a few) give us an individuals "Intelligence Quotient". It pairs everybody up against everyone else as far as knowledge/age is concerned, then gives you a number thats easy to interpret.

Your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) is a nice little formula. It takes your tested Mental Age and divides it by your Chronological Age and multiplies that number by 100. So basically, if you are 25 years old, and know as much as most 25 year olds, your IQ is 100, or average. Also, pretty neat to know that IQ scores are generally stable throughout your entire life and can be tested as early as the age of 3.

The IQ is setup to have nearly a perfect bell curve also. If you have an IQ below 70 (iirc) then you're legally mentally handicapped. If above 150, you're a genius. The only dependable measurement of your IQ has to be given one-on-one with a certified psychologist... none of those little quizzes you find online.


Hope my very brief, simplified version of IQ answers your question. It doesn't really test your ability to do anything, it's just a number to pit you against your age group in an attempt to place just how smart you are. Also, nobody should ever put too much emphasis on it! Let it be known that the APA (American Psychological Association) can't even come up with a proper definition for intelligence that most psychologists can agree with... so how can we test it accurately? We can't. Just a number.



PS - I'm sure there's a Wikipedia article that can do this a hell of a lot better than I can.

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Postby zenten » Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:13 pm UTC

Nevea: According to wikipedia, and my memories of the two psych courses I took, your description is not accurate for modern IQ tests.

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Postby Nevea » Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:19 pm UTC

zenten wrote:Nevea: According to wikipedia, and my memories of the two psych courses I took, your description is not accurate for modern IQ tests.


Indeed :P, apparently, I've just studied the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (although, briefly) and they now use a different method for adults. However, my last point still stands regarding the definition of intelligence... if I'm not mistaken.
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Postby Nosforit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 5:43 pm UTC

My IQ is a measure of how fast I can find a pattern and then extrapolate that pattern. I don't know why this is more important than how accurate I am at doing so.

Also: I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours'. :wink:

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Postby Thunderbird4! » Sat Aug 18, 2007 5:53 pm UTC

Last test I took I had a 143 Nosforit.

And Nosforit is right, IQ tests tend to measure how quickly you can do something not how accurately you do it.
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Postby Nosforit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 6:11 pm UTC

148. Just enough to get me accepted into Mensa. I'm the small fish in the big pond there. :mrgreen:
Though I wonder if they awarded a few extra points just out of pity... :?

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Postby Macbi » Sat Aug 18, 2007 6:14 pm UTC

The various tests i've taken have put me between 96 and 151.
Which shows how accurate they are.

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Postby Gelsamel » Sat Aug 18, 2007 6:50 pm UTC

What is even the point with Mensa?

Tests I've taken put me around 146-162, not that they're particularly meaningful in anyway. My Study Ethic is terrible.
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Postby Nosforit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:03 pm UTC

Seems to me its most important function is to get those scarred by years of bullying for being different to dare open up again in the presence of their peers. As a whole, Mensa seems to be very open to new ideas, and it seems to me it contains more liberal artsy types than stuffy intellectual types. Study ethic or education has little to do at all with Mensa.

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Postby Xanthir » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:26 pm UTC

IQ is a measure of a relatively specific kind of intelligence (just exactly what this is varies a bit between tests). Different ethnic groups and cultures perform differently on the IQ test because it is not built toward them. Your IQ is not stable over your lifetime.

Those who say that IQ tests measure your ability to take IQ tests aren't too far off. ^_^ Of course, the ability to take IQ tests is a (bad) proxy for intelligence.

That said, I usually score around 150.

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Postby Nosforit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:37 pm UTC

You can definitely score higher on an IQ test through practice, and I kinda doubt this practice has any effect on your performance on other tasks. And yet, I'm not too shabby at finding patterns in things quite different from the type of test I took. All in all, Mensa shows that people of similar spirit are united through this type of testing, regardless of what exactly is being measured. Mensa doesn't claim to know what intelligence is, but rather is continuously trying to find out just that.


...But I still wish we had a secret handshake or something. :\

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Postby McHell » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:26 pm UTC

Macbi's answer is the most practical and succinct. The idea arose in the time of phrenology ("shape of your skull indicates: criminal mind") and eugenics.

There's all kinds of fun things. Every 10years or so the average score goes up by 3points, mostly through better education (yes, even in the west, maybe all those "in my day it was better" people are not always right), so it gets corrected.

Also, there's very great cultural bias --- american scientists tend to score very badly on (translated) middle-eastern schoolkiddie IQ-tests. And vice versa. That's actually also why great apes score badly: "there's a thunderstorm: go hide (a) in house or (b) under a tree or (c) in car" BEEP! (b) is wrong. Tell that to thousands of years of gorilla-culture of sticking to the tree in a storm.

There is something there that gets measured, it has mostly something to do with pattern recognition, but that's about it. Some people get trained in that kind of puzzles and get better (you can very easily increase your score by about 30 in a week of exercises), some people are intuitively very good at it. Some very intelligent people misinterprete the questions and make it too difficult (the typical joke "how to measure the height of a building with a barometer") and score badly.

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Postby Bondolon » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:46 pm UTC

Nevea wrote:The grad school test you're thinking about is the SAT.


:? ummm, GRE?

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Postby Gadren » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:49 pm UTC

IQ measures how often someone will brag about his or her IQ. :P

I remember taking some IQ-thingy a while back when I was being considered for a gifted class in elementary school. I don't know what I got, but I do know that it had to be >155 to get into the class.

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Postby __Kit » Sat Aug 18, 2007 11:25 pm UTC

True story - the other day my sister asked me how to SPELL 'IQ'
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Postby recurve boy » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:31 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:What is even the point with Mensa?


Smart hot chicks? If so, I should consider applying ...

I hate the puzzles that deal with words and stuff. I am a very bad speller and cannot express myself with words so well. So I always do poorly in those.

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Postby Marbas » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:57 am UTC

From what I remember of my test, it mainly tested pattern finding and memory. I took the WISC-IV.

Examples of the tasks in the IQ test I took include: Find what ____ number of objects have in common, Make this red shape out of these blocks which each have a red triangle on one side, reason through this scenario, each number has a shape assigned -draw the shapes under each line of numbers-, and the ever popular memorize these digits and recite them back to the proctor.

The reason I took the IQ test was because my teachers wanted to see if I qualified for special ed. I don't. In fact, the principal and my teachers were more than a little insulted when she looked at my test scores and then my GPA. I am a very lazy person with regards to most subjects in school.
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Postby Toeofdoom » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:13 am UTC

^ I did the WISC thing when I was 7, and another followup test on a different scale, but apparently I'm more than 4 standard deviations from the mean, or was then so 160+? I dunno, it doesnt really have a specific meaning, all it really shows is how good you are at the type of test, which is linked to certain forms of "intelligence" but not others.
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Postby Marbas » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:28 am UTC

Toeofdoom wrote:^ I did the WISC thing when I was 7, and another followup test on a different scale, but apparently I'm more than 4 standard deviations from the mean, or was then so 160+? I dunno, it doesnt really have a specific meaning, all it really shows is how good you are at the type of test, which is linked to certain forms of "intelligence" but not others.


Wow...I'm a measly 125. I do believe I've been dwarfed. Anyways I've never set much of a store by IQ myself, it never really struck me as a practical thing to place faith in. I mean, in my case I'm really just limiting myself if I think it has a real bearing on how much I can accomplish.
Last edited by Marbas on Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:16 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Toeofdoom » Sun Aug 19, 2007 7:47 am UTC

I only found that out about a month ago, and read the report and stuff, I didnt remember when I was 7 I was more interested in the puzzles themselves than what they were for.

Personally, I find I learn stuff very fast if I'm paying attention, and I'm really good at maths and reasoning and stuff, but only a bit above average with language skills and stuff.

I personally dont give a shit how smart some test says a person is, and there are way more things than just "intelligence" anyway, stability, initiative, coordination, memory, charisma, etc.

What does an IQ score mean? What does any test score mean? Its how many questions you got right. It's also a vague measure of how good someone is at problem solving and pattern recognition anyway, but as has been mentioned, peoples IQ scores vary depending on the test anyway.
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Postby Gelsamel » Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:03 am UTC

recurve boy wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:What is even the point with Mensa?


Smart hot chicks? If so, I should consider applying ...


:O... If that's true I might consider joining....

What I meant with the study ethic is - I'm not extremely knowledgeable (except in areas I love, like physics etc). But that that is different from having a high IQ.
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Postby dumbclown » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:02 am UTC

It helps you prove people wrong with style.

I only have one friend with an IQ lower then mine. Actually that should be only one of my friends who could be bothered to take the test has an IQ lower then me. Anytime I get in an argument with them I always mention that he can't be right because his IQ is lower. He is actually a lot smarter then me but luckily English is his second language, so he tends to do badly because comprehending the questions is harder for him.

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Postby Macbi » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:05 am UTC

How do they obtain averages to base the scores on?
Iv'e got a feeling that moe inteligent people would take more of them, biasing the average.

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Postby Marbas » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:35 pm UTC

Gelsamel wrote:
recurve boy wrote:
Gelsamel wrote:What is even the point with Mensa?


Smart hot chicks? If so, I should consider applying ...



What I meant with the study ethic is - I'm not extremely knowledgeable (except in areas I love, like physics etc). But that that is different from having a high IQ.


I was going to say...people are generally very knowledgeable in a particular subject area if they truly love it.
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Postby recurve boy » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:33 am UTC

Gelsamel wrote:What I meant with the study ethic is - I'm not extremely knowledgeable (except in areas I love, like physics etc). But that that is different from having a high IQ.


They don't take into account learning styles either. I used to not understand what the hell was going on in german class. Then one day (unfortunately after I quit learning german) I realised "SYNTAX!". They never bothered to really explain the foundations of a language and I never had a concept of it at the time.

Same with words and pictures. I used to draw quite a lot and wasn't bad at it. I am hopelessly uncreative with words. Some abstract concepts also confuse me. I can do multi variable calculus in up to 4 dimensions easily. I can draw graphs and have a concept of time. 5 dimensions and I can't.

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Postby evilbeanfiend » Mon Aug 20, 2007 8:11 am UTC

dumbclown wrote:It helps you prove people wrong with style.

I only have one friend with an IQ lower then mine. Actually that should be only one of my friends who could be bothered to take the test has an IQ lower then me. Anytime I get in an argument with them I always mention that he can't be right because his IQ is lower. He is actually a lot smarter then me but luckily English is his second language, so he tends to do badly because comprehending the questions is harder for him.


its not even just comprehension that can make a difference, there is a cultural bias that also shows up despite the tests trying to be as abstract as possible.
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Postby 3.14159265... » Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:19 pm UTC

They are fun to play with.

I hate them bieng used for actual practical uses.

Like trying to find genetic differences in intelligence of different races.

Or trying to find out who is "brilliant". Though the other opposite of finding out who is "challenged" seems to be working well, when it comes to kids.

Also, anyone know where I can take an official one, in London, Ontario?
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Postby Marbas » Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:51 am UTC

3.14159265... wrote:
Like trying to find genetic differences in intelligence of different races.



I have a person who used to be my friend who really likes The Bell Curve.

Let's just show that it shows in his day-to-day interaction. This is also the reason why I'm not friends with him anymore.
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Postby SpitValve » Tue Aug 21, 2007 12:56 am UTC

One of my evil plans is to find someone I have a higher IQ than who is mean to people who have lower IQs than him. Then I'll be nice to him _and_ to the people who he's mean to.

That's right! I'll show him!

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Postby Vaniver » Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:02 am UTC

Nosforit wrote:148. Just enough to get me accepted into Mensa.
Er, Mensa only requires 132 (unless you took the CFIT, which you should specify, as they appear to have different standard deviations).
I mostly post over at LessWrong now.

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Postby Nosforit » Tue Aug 21, 2007 6:30 am UTC

I dunno... I just got a diploma. :?

It's the Finnish Mensa, and IIRC the requirement is 148 or more. That makes me their retarded kid. :mrgreen:

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Postby Macbi » Tue Aug 28, 2007 2:09 pm UTC

Nevea wrote:The IQ is setup to have nearly a perfect bell curve also.

I just realised that that would allow a negative I.Q.
Is that possible?

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Postby Cosmologicon » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:40 pm UTC

Just to be clear, mental age (MA) was the basis for IQ tests when they were first created, but it hasn't been for a long time. Now, they're usually normalized to a gaussian distribution (bell curve) with mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15. So, by definition, one in about 20 billion people will have an IQ below 0, assuming I calculated that right.

However, I think that real IQ tests probably don't claim to be accurate for every single member of the population, let alone three times the population of Earth, so practically speaking, I bet a negative IQ is impossible.

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Postby Nosforit » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:48 pm UTC

IQs higher than 200 are hardly measurable, and likewise IQs of the opposite extreme, below 0, aren't really measurable either. Still, the number given to a certain position in the bell curve is arbitrary, so there would not be anything special about this hypothetic negative IQ except that it is at one extreme.

Yet, if we were to try fitting 100% of the population within this 0 to 200 points, we'd see a graph approximate to this:

0________|________200

Where the vertical line represents almost 100% of the population and the horizontal part represents the minuscule percentage of the rest. This is because there is no theoretic limit to these upper and lower extremes, so then everybody else gets condensed into the vertical section. Such a graph is almost completely useless.
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Postby zenten » Tue Aug 28, 2007 4:50 pm UTC

Ok, I know where IQ tests come from. I have some idea on how they're measured and all that.

What I don't get is why the questions it has are used, instead of some other ones. I mean, what's to stop someone in charge of IQ tests from picking the sorts of questions that they're really good at to give themselves a high IQ, assuming the standard deviations and means and all that are still the same?

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Postby Cosmologicon » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:07 pm UTC

zenten wrote:What I don't get is why the questions it has are used, instead of some other ones. I mean, what's to stop someone in charge of IQ tests from picking the sorts of questions that they're really good at to give themselves a high IQ....

First, IQ tests aren't accepted into use on the basis of one person. I'm not sure what the review process is, but I'm sure that some other psychologists would raise objections if it was clearly biased. Second, there's the fact that having a high IQ doesn't really get you anything. It might let the state think you're mentally competent to stand trial, or place you in grade school if you immigrate from Myanmar, but it's not like they're used to get jobs.

You might as well ask why the person in charge of SATs doesn't tailor the questions to himself.

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Postby zenten » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:17 pm UTC

Cosmologicon wrote:
zenten wrote:What I don't get is why the questions it has are used, instead of some other ones. I mean, what's to stop someone in charge of IQ tests from picking the sorts of questions that they're really good at to give themselves a high IQ....

First, IQ tests aren't accepted into use on the basis of one person. I'm not sure what the review process is, but I'm sure that some other psychologists would raise objections if it was clearly biased. Second, there's the fact that having a high IQ doesn't really get you anything. It might let the state think you're mentally competent to stand trial, or place you in grade school if you immigrate from Myanmar, but it's not like they're used to get jobs.

You might as well ask why the person in charge of SATs doesn't tailor the questions to himself.


But the SATs are at least based on something, right? They're calibrated to measure success in university or something, right?

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Postby Nosforit » Tue Aug 28, 2007 5:48 pm UTC

The functionary in charge of our test, conducted at Helsinki University, said from experience that about half the people present at that occasion would score 148 or more. This means that there existed a disposition among the candidates urging them take such a test in the first place. That is, while 2% of the population in general were eligible, 50% of the people who had actually sought their way there were eligible. Clearly, for some reason we all thought we were smart enough to make it, and half of us indeed were. Additionally we were all willing to bet our fragile egos on the result, rather than forsake certainty for the bliss of ignorance.

This gives some idea about what the test in practice measured, and is indeed the best useful info I can give on the subject since I'm still trying to figure out the rest of the story myself.
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