What Does IQ Really Measure?

Kids who score higher on IQ tests will, on average, go on to do better in conventional measures of success in life: academic achievement, economic success, even greater health, and longevity. Is that because they are more intelligent? Not necessarily. New research concludes that IQ scores are partly a measure of how motivated a child is to do well on the test. And harnessing that motivation might be as important to later success as so-called native intelligence.

Read the rest here.


  1. #1 daedalus2u
    April 26, 2011

    So the smartest people are paid the most money, it is just that the causal chain goes the other way.

    No wonder the GOP is trying to keep money away from the poor.

  2. #2 JoshM
    April 26, 2011

    So basically what you are saying is that the “dumb” people will never excel like the “smart” people can? Well I think that it is very likely that some “dumb” people can be very lucky to excel farther than some “smart” people. The “dumb” people can excel in something like shop or something else. Also I think that the GOP should not hold money from the “dumb” people just because they aren’t book smart.

  3. #3 Dakota T
    April 26, 2011

    This article was actually very intresting. So does this mean that kids who score a high on the IQ test aren’t nessasarly smarter than kids who dont score as high? THe whole smart people go farther in life deal isnt nessasarly true look at me im not the smartest i dont get straight A’s but im succesding in life just fine i have my family and friends and a future job even tho i am going to collage. ALso some people that dont score high in IQ are sometimes smarter than the ones who do score higher they might just not try or they might freez up during tests.

  4. #4 Kourtney N
    April 26, 2011

    This is actually a interesting article. So since they score higher on their IQ test actually aren’t as smart as they are in the real world? IQ test actually aren’t as smart as they are in the real world? Your article says that if they score high on an IQ test then they could get high scores on their school test…. Then are they really smart at all or just smart on what to study before they take a test?

  5. #5 informania
    April 26, 2011

    SPelling isn’t such a great deal at ur collage is IT?

  6. #6 informania
    April 26, 2011


  7. #7 sailor
    April 27, 2011

    This study seems to be missing important data. If motivation rather than IQ (whatever that is but let’s leave that for the moment)is what gives IQ differences, then when you provide monetary reward, the unmotivated (low scorers) should do better. But by the same token the high scorers who are already doing as best as they can because they are motivated, should not be able to do much better. So the IQ curve should not remain the same at a higher level, but flatten out a bit, squeezing lower scorers up 10 points but showing little difference in the high range. I would expect a study like this would examine that. Shame it does not.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    April 27, 2011

    sailor, nobody in the study or the write-up is saying that motivation is the only thing being measured, only that it accounts for a large part of the difference in scores. There’s no reason there can’t be unmotivated people who still produce high scores.

  9. #9 Rebekah W
    April 29, 2011

    Dear Greg,
    I liked this article. I think you put a good point. And for those who have low IQ scores, it can be very encouraging to them. If it is proven that the test are partly on how motivated the person is, what might be something to motivate kids to do well on tests?

  10. #10 DuWayne
    April 29, 2011

    There’s no reason there can’t be unmotivated people who still produce high scores.

    I was definitely unmotivated – it was when I was tested into special ed and was my third or forth weekly three hour session with the occupational psychologist. I took several batteries of tests over the course of six weeks, all of which I did exceptionally well at – excepting basic arithmetic, which I was two years behind in (theoretical math was excellent) and English mechanics, which I was only a year ahead in.

    Having produced a rather high score, I then proceeded to drop out of high school, do a lot of drugs, played music, engaged in many destructive behaviors, settled out a little and built a small business that failed, had two kids for whom I am now a only parent and am finally in college (started at thirty-three). I am now (since getting teh boys) living in an apartment I am building in my parents basement and dependent on welfare to eat and receive healthcare for me and my boys. I am on the verge of a breakdown, have been for months – the medications are barely staving it off.

    I concluded a very long time ago that scoring well on an IQ test isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

  11. #11 Adrian
    March 21, 2012

    IQ tests alone cannot predict accademic success, or a successfull career. There are many people with high IQ scores and who have not attended a college. The same with motivation. There are many other important things for success in life: personality traits, education, financial support…