IQ and Why It Doesn’t Matter

IQ, or intelligence quotient, is a score derived from a series of standardised tests expressing human intelligence in a numerical format. IQs are typically used for educational placement, personal assessment and on occasion, professional assessment. It is calculated by dividing one’s mental age- generated through the standardised tests -by one’s physical age and multiplying by one hundred. The result can range from zero to above 200, though the average human IQ of developed countries is placed at 100. A higher score on the scale represents a greater cognitive capacity. Below is a visual representation of IQ distribution across the population. The percentages shown correspond to the percent population with the given IQ scores. You will notice that the majority 95 percent of the population have an IQ within the range of 70 to 130, whereas a very small percentage of the population is found to have scores less than or greater than scores in this range.


IQ scores are most reliably obtained through licensed psychologists. Short, online IQ tests are less reliable and often yield inaccurate results, though accuracy increases with longer and more thorough online tests.

For quite some time now, I have been reading posts on the online question-and-answer site, Quora. Here users ask and answer questions, create blog posts and are updated with the latest news worldwide. There are many great writers on Quora ranging from well-known professionals from various backgrounds to your average Joe.

Recently when reading posts about IQ and different opinions on its significance, three common themes appeared: IQ doesn’t guarantee you anything, it doesn’t represent your emotional intelligence and it describes your intellectual capacity, not capability.

As many writers have stated, a high IQ does not guarantee you happiness, wealth or friendship. It doesn’t guarantee you anything for that matter. It’s only a measure of your cognitive capabilities as an individual. Sure, having a high IQ or greater intelligence allows you to process complex ideas and concepts which to you might bring enjoyment and satisfaction, but having a “superior” mindset doesn’t exactly attract others, especially when accompanied with narcissism. Practising modesty becomes even more important in your personal and professional life when you desire companionship or increasing your workplace status.

Second, IQ does not equate to EQ, though both are equally important. EQ, or emotional quotient, as defined by Psychology Today is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.” In a way, EQ is to extraverts as IQ is to introverts: one is usually more present than the other.

You often see people of high IQ praised more than those with a high EQ, expressing a bias toward those who are more intellectually capable than emotionally capable.

I find this irrational, for who is to say that being able to comprehend complex ideas is more important than being able to understand and connect with the emotions of others? This is where I along with many others find a major fault in the significance of the IQ.

As one Quoran put it best, IQ describes one’s intellectual capacity, not capability. Having a high IQ does not mean you are fulfilling your intellectual capacity, and this could translate to having an intellect similar to someone of a lower IQ. Learning through challenging yourself is how you reach your intelligence quotient, and without that, your IQ would amount to nothing.

In the end, the significance of the IQ is only that of which you give it. It gives you no external reward, no validation of emotional comprehension and no security of your intellectual capabilities. It’s just another number in life.

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