Psychology Chartered

Why Intelligence Tests are Dumb

Posted by Chloe Nunan

9th July 2018

By Harriet Hardy.

Most people have heard the question, ‘what’s your IQ?’. IQ, or intelligence quotient, is generally accepted as a measure of human intelligence throughout Western society. This need to express and make judgements on intelligence is evident from early school years and is present right through adulthood.  However, like almost any other measurable or physical difference throughout history, it is being used to give a small minority of people a sense of superiority.

William Stern was the original developer of intelligence tests back in 1912, and since then, a variety of other such tests have been developed, with their own different scoring systems. The reasoning behind the development of this test, which is prophetic of what it would end up being used for, was because William Stern believed individuality was going to be the primary problem of the 20th Century. Therefore, he developed this test to classify people which, in a sense, he has achieved. Unfortunately, this tool has been used more as a tool to justify discrimination than to identify intelligence levels.

Unfortunately, IQ discrimination is expected to soon be the most common form of discrimination as the idea of meritocracy starts to gather speed. Meritocracy is a political philosophy which holds that economic power and leadership should be given to people based off of intelligence and achievement. This would mean that the ‘intellectuals’ will have the repeated reinforcement that people who score highly on intelligence tests are superior to those who don’t.

This prediction is already starting to come to light in forms of organisations such as MENSA. This is apparently a non-profit organisation; however, it only accepts individual who scored in the top 98th percentile of intelligence tests and there is an admission. This encourages people to ‘IQ tag’ people and make judgements on people about the measured IQ level.

Other than the obvious and expected discrimination that measuring intelligence causes, there are many other problems with these tests besides that. A primary problem is that they are designed for people who live in the Western world, and have a mandatory level of education, standardized across each country, until at least the age of sixteen, where they are then encouraged to receive a higher education as well. Unsurprisingly, therefore Western cultures generally have a higher IQ, averaging at about 100, whereas Eastern countries have an average of around the 85-point mark. This would indicate that intelligence tests are not actually a measure of intelligence, but more a measure of the level of education that one receives.

Discrimination in any form is never acceptable! Maybe the best course of action with regards to these so-called intelligence tests is to not take one. The irony that the statement ‘ignorance is bliss’ seems to be particularly relevant to the concept of IQ tests.