Can one change their own IQ?

Is it possible, by any reasonable method (no brain surgery), to make a dramatic change to your own intelligence quotient? I ask this because I’ve never been quite sure as to whether an IQ is reflective of some innate, fixed level of ability or something that grows with development.

This is just IMO but I believe it is possible. By doing lots of problem-solving puzzles etc…

The difficult bit is developing interest. Once you are interested in something you should be able to use it to increase your IQ. IMO programming increases IQ, but you have to be motivated to learn/do it.

Long story short - Using brain = increasing IQ.

To answer you more specifically (still with just an opinion/guess though) I think it’s a bit of both. People can be born with a ‘quick’ brain (they are probably are just interested in more things, and so learn more things). And people can develop their brain at a faster rate, proactively, than other people.

In Psychology IIRC my teacher said that your IQ can change, depending on how much you use your brain. And there’s generally a marked decrease in people’s IQs after middle age- because they’re not (usually) going to school, helping their kids with their homework, stuff like that. They don’t challenge themselves anymore. But people who do crosswords or logic puzzles later in life don’t have nearly as much memory loss and stuff as people who don’t. And it lowers your risk for Alzheimers too.

In the short term, probably yes, variable depending upon what your inate ability to learn is.

In the long term, people tend to go back to their default mental behavior patterns. So probably no unless some outside force keeps up the mental pressure so to speak. People tend to gravitate towards mental activity levels that are comfortable for them. Some people would find a life of constant mental overstimulation a miserable one, while others would enjoy it. Things like the amount of grey matter in your brain have a strong genetic component, and a demonstratable effect on IQ.

An IQ test is just like any other in the sense that the more adept you are at answering the questions, better your score will be. If you were to practice taking IQ tests (that is, take a lot of them) your score would eventually increase. It won’t necessarily mean you’re getting smarter, however; it’ll just mean you’re getting good at thinking in the way IQ tests test for.

To actually become smarter requires learning and thought.

IIRC (no cite, sorry) when two people marry / cohabit in the longterm, the IQ of the one with the lower IQ will gradually rise, and depending on the original difference, may actually reach the IQ of the other person (it will never exceed it).

Interestingly enough, apparently there is no corresponding decrease in the IQ of the more intelligent spouse.

I think this comes from the increased number intelligent conversation / puzzles / debates that the more intelligent person would wish to have with the other person.

Raising your IQ requires the same thing. Any psychologist will tell you that if you take an IQ test over and over, that test will no longer be reflective of your actual IQ.

I have heard this in my psychology classes as well, and it only reinforces my belief that IQ tests are not useful for measuring anything other than how well you do on an IQ test.

It’s certainly possible to raise your score on an IQ test.

Quick example. What’s the next number in this series:

1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, ?

If you’ve never heard of prime numbers, you have no hope of getting the “correct” answer, which is 13. So practicing IQ tests and learning the concepts underlying them will raise your score.

But the question remains, what is the test actually measuring? Is it pattern recognition ability, familiarity with concepts like primality, or what?

If the test is looking for pattern recognition, then there are two sensible answers to the question. 13, because it’s the next prime, and 15, because the difference between consecutive numbers goes 1, 1, 2, 2, 4, ?

Someone really smart might recognize that there’s no single correct answer, and so refuse to give one.

Someone really, really smart might decide that the clown who designed the test didn’t recognize the chance of another valid solution, and so give 13 as the answer.

So what is the test actually measuring, after all of that? It’s not measuring any innate characteristic. It’s measuring how closely your answers conform to the answers devised by the people who wrote the test, as compared to other people they’ve tried the test on.

And that’s all.

I’m not saying you don’t have a valid case, but if you want to be credible, you probably shouldn’t use “examples” that you get from My Intro Psych book has (modified) example questions from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. They’re things like, “Why do we lock our car and take the keys when we leave it parked?”, “What is entomology?”, “Arrange these pieces to form a duck.” and “What does this 3-D shape look like viewed from the back?” None of these realistic questions have the same disadvantage of the convenient one you made up.

As for someone outsmarting the test maker and refusing to put the expected answer, everyone knows and acknowledges that standardized tests have this disadvantage. It makes sense that you lose accuracy when you don’t allow the test taker to explain their reasoning. But there are tests that are administered like this, if you think you’re too smart for standardized ones.

And 1 is not prime.

Look, sport, it’s 1:30 am on Saturday morning, and I made up the example on the spot. I’ve never even fucking heard of :rolleyes:

Reading back over this thing again, I have to say: WTF?

You falsely accuse me of getting my example from, then you acknowledge that I conveniently made it up, which I did. You propose as a better question “What is entomology”, which quite fucking obviously suffers from exactly the same problem I initially pointed out: if you’ve never heard of entomology, you can’t give the answer the test designer wants.

And your final “And 1 is not prime” is exactly the “outsmarting the test maker” that I was talking about. Jesus H. :rolleyes:

That question moves into the realm of trivia-you either know it or you don’t. All the other questions all gave you the tools to construct the answer from the given information, which (I would think at least) are the best way to measure true intelligence. There are many questions that could measure lingual intelligence that give you all the neccessary tools and information, making it up to you to get the answer right.

There was a test done on London taxi drivers to establish whether continual use of one part of the brain (in their case the lower brain which deals with navigation) would increase the size of that part of the brain. The test showed that the taxi drivers had hugely increased brain mass in their lower brain (probably at the expense of the “knowing when to shut up” part of the brain).
Thus continual use of brain functions and practice at all of the things that encompass an IQ test will enable you to perform better at those tests.


I don’t know if programming makes you smarter, as Lobsang suggests, but in my case it definitely made me more willing or able to plow through mathematical proofs and derivations.

Have any of you taken an IQ test? I mean, a real one, with a person administering it to you? I did, when I was 8. They do have lots of pattern-recognition questions, but they also have lots of puzzles. I’d give anything to have another shot at that damn horse puzzle. There’s quite a few questions where they give you these blocks and show you a shape, and you have to make that shape out of the blocks you have. That’s the sort of thing anyone can do. And then they ask you a bunch of questions, starting out with ones that are appropriate for your age/education level. If you answer those right, you move on to the next level, until you can’t answer the questions anymore. I think I made it to the 9th grade questions before I just started giving the examiner blank stares.

Yeah, an IQ test only measures one aspect of intelligence, but if you are interested in how good your logic/reasoning skills are, it can be very informative.

Right, so you made up an obviously bad question, pointed out that it was bad, and concluded that IQ tests are bunk. I don’t know if is a real site; I just made that up to point out that you clearly didn’t get it from an actual IQ test. Sorry if this wasn’t apparent.

Now, I’m not a psychologist, but I know they actually put some thought into these things! Don’t you think that if it was really the case that IQ tests are “not measuring any innate characteristic”, someone would have noticed in the past few decades?

As for the “what is entomology” question, you’re still thinking in terms of multiple-choice pseudoscientific pop psychology! Without knowing anything about it, I can imagine lots of different responses, maybe “the study of something” or “there’s no word for that in my native language”. The test taker looks for certain responses that are similar to responses that intelligent people give. I don’t know, maybe they’re looking for how well you bluff when you don’t know. You assume there’s a little checkbox the administrator checks if they give the dictionary definition, and leaves blank otherwise, but it’s a little more complex than that.

Also, you should know that psychologists do a lot of tedious math to determine whether the answers on questions actually correlate with what’s considered intelligence. This is a large part of what makes it a science.

I hear that watching Colin Quinn stand-up has actually been known to LOWER a person’s IQ. ;j

In all seriousness. I read a pretty interesting book called “The Einstein Factor” by Win Wenger and Richard Poe, that addresed this subject.

The book’s contention was that IQ and intellegence COULD be increased by the consitant practice of a series of mental visualizatin excersises. The book’s contention was that in doing this, the brain creates a series of neuro-pathways that allows itself to work more efficiently and economically, and that once these neuro-pathways are created, they remain. An example the book gave of how these neuro-pathways remain in place was the neuro-pathways that we develop when we learn to ride a bike. Once we learn to do it, the connections our brain and body have made with each other to monitor our balance never leave us, which is why, as they say, you never forget how to ride a bike.

I have not done any further research on the subject. However, the book gives references and footnotes throughout, for every claim it makes, so one could certainly investigate further. It all sounded extremely interesting to me, and certainly convincing and viable.

  • Freewill39.