Do IQ Tests actually work?

…at measuring people’s ability to do IQ tests? Yes.

I’ve taken a couple of online IQ tests, and the biggest thing I noticed is that they seem to be specifically geared toward pattern recognition. Since pattern recognition is only one type of intelligence, that makes an IQ test useless for anything except measuring your ability to recognize a pattern. Not to mention that some people don’t test well, and some people don’t do well on any written test.

The online ones are a joke. I’ve taken a bunch of them and they are all geared toward different aspects of intellect. My scores have ranged over 40 points. However, I have also taken a “real” IQ test, and this covered a much broader range of questions, from verbal skills to math, logic, and even creativity and problem solving. The test was over 2 hours long and has to be administered by someone licensed (usually a psychologist) who has taken classes in how to administer and score IQ tests. I would be more likely to put some merit in this test, it covered a broad range of topics and required answers in different forms, (mostly verbal, some written) as well as asking the questions in different forms (for both “verbal” and “visual” learners). Although I do think no one single test is a good “proof” of intelligence, IMO the IQ test is a better indicator than say, the SAT or ACT, which are much more limited in their coverage (if you are not good at multiple-choice, forget it.) The online ones are usually only one example of many sections you would find on a real IQ test. Your score depends on how you do on all of them, as well as time taken on some, and also includes control questions.

Then again, how much IQ matters is relative. I know some people that probably have high IQ’s that are lacking in social skills, which are just as important in getting along in our world. To me, your IQ doesn’t matter if you’re a bad person.

Didn’t one of the DNA guys (I think it was Crick) reveal his IQ test result was 115? Kinda low for a Nobel Laureate in the sciences, no?

That is like saying: Does the 300-yard dash measure athletic ability?

Flip response: No, it measures ones ability to run the 300-yard dash.

While true by definition, the same argument can be made against any test or controlled trial. These tasks ARE measuring some underlying ability even though we may argue just what that ability is.

To take the analogy of the 300 yard dash one step further, no, it may nor measure athletic ability alone but it is measuring a portion of that ability so it is a valid portion of the test. Now lets say we add in weight lifting, swimming, endurance running, accuracy throwing etc. We may not cover all facets of athletic ability with these tests but we have tested for many aspects of it. One would be naive or simply ignorant to argue that each of these trials only measured performance within the trial and had no relevance to underlying athletic prowess.

No one argues that the typical IQ tests measure all aspects of intellectual ability. Artistic and musical ability are almost completely absent because the tests were never designed to measure these abilities. However, verbal, spatial, and mathematical reasoning are well covered and scores on these tests certainly measure underlying ability in these areas that are covered.

Among the strongest evidence that IQ tests measure some underlying factor is that scores on the various IQ tests correlate extremely highly with each other and scores on the same test over time tend to be very stable. I am amazed that no matter which IQ test I take, my score always falls within +/- 5 points and has done so since I was in the 4th grade.