Can IQ test really predict your success in life?

A group of students receive an IQ test.Dozens of trial online secret services promise to measure intelligence and even predict the future success of a person. Most of these online quizzes are not supported by research. Conversely, psychometric examinations are usually based on Intelligence Quotient (IQ) tests. These include the Weschler Adult Information Scale, the Aptitude Multi-Dimensional Battery and the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test.

These tests are designed to measure an individual's general intelligence (also called factor G). Many believe that general intelligence is a prediction of success. However, research suggests that IQ is one of the many factors that play a role in a person's success.

The challenge to determine success

Success is a vague, broad concept. It means totally different things to different people. Some examples may include:

  • Successful relationships with others. This can include a happy marriage and many friends.
  • Economic success. This could include the possibility of paying bills other than the future and making big purchases.
  • Career success. This can mean success in a career, such as legislation or medicine, which others regard as being prestigious. Or it could mean finding a career that is personally satisfying or challenging.
  • Academic success. This may include obtaining an advanced degree, obtaining excellent grades, or receiving a scholarship.
  • Success as a parent. This may mean that you have close relationships with children, bringing up children with various measures or just enjoying parents.
  • I feel joyful. This could include achieving a sense of meaning or internal peace.
  • Ethical success. This may mean that you feel like a good person, finding ways to help others or following the imperatives of faith or consciousness.

IQ scores can not measure every chance of success. In fact, it is difficult for IQ scores to fully and accurately measure even one type of success. While there is some correlation between IQ ratings and economic or professional success, even those categories are broad and non-specific. Individuals can have different goals for the same category. For example, a person may have a low-paid job they personally find fit to perform. Another person with high-level work can develop workplace problems such as boredom or exhaustion.

IQ scores and other matches of success

A handful of studies have found a modest correlation between IQ scores and workplace success. For example, a 2004 study found that IQ is a good prognostic factor both for a person's final career level and for his success in this field. People with higher vigilance rates tend to be more proficient in careers and excel in these careers. The study considers this to be due to the fact that people with high levels of alertness can acquire new skills faster. In very demanding areas, such as medicine and law, the ability to process and maintain new information is crucial.

Several studies have shown that IQ correlates with income, but the extent to which this is true varies considerably. In a review of research on IQ and income in 2007, most studies found low to moderate correlations between income and IQ. IQ was about the good of a prognostic for success as a parent socio-economic situation.

Research shows that many individual and social factors also affect a person's results. Some individual factors that may affect success regardless of intelligence include:

  • Motivation.
  • Willingness to learn new information.
  • Attention.
  • Mental health.
  • Factors of lifestyle.
  • Stress.

The social factors that can affect success include:

  • Social class (whether from wealth or poverty).
  • Access to economic and social resources, such as quality schools.
  • Institutional discrimination, such as racism, sexism and homophobia.
  • Individual distinctions, such as distinctions from a discriminatory teacher.

The correlation between IQ grade and socio-economic status suggests that IQ tests can measure access to opportunities rather than inherent qualities.

IQ ratings and socio-economic status

The results of IQ correlate quite well with the socio-economic situation (SES). This is not necessarily because people with high question marks create more money. Instead, research suggests a greater social and economic privilege that gives children access to tools that improve their IQ.

For example, the survey published in 2011 found a percentage of inheritance for intelligence of just 5% among low SES children. Inheritance measures the extent to which differences between individuals can be explained by genetics. A 5% heredity rate means that non-genetic factors account for 95% of differences in intelligence. Experiences such as food insecurity or homelessness are more likely to affect the IQ of a poor child than their biology.

The same study found a higher rate of heredity for intelligence among more privileged children – 50% on average. The authors of the study believe that high SES families may be able to provide more opportunities to become aware of the differences in children's genetic potential. Families with more financial resources are often better placed to do things that enhance intelligence, such as:

  • Move to areas with terrific schools or put children in gifted educational programs.
  • Hire private teachers.
  • Connect children to adults who can help them acquire new skills.
  • Spend time with children in tasks that cause mental challenges such as building blocks, puzzles or reading.

Research also shows a class bias in IQ tests. Children who grow up in households with lower socio-economic status participate in fewer conversations and hear fewer words than children from more privileged backgrounds. Children in the middle and upper class receiving an IQ test are more likely to have heard the words and be exposed to testing concepts.

Critics argue that this trend affects testing against the poorest children by measuring their experiences despite their inadequate reasoning skills. Other people claim that this bias actually makes IQ tests a more reliable measure of success. They argue that these tests measure the cultural knowledge that can affect a child's ability to fit, understand the world and eventually succeed.

Are IQs reliable?

An important part of the research challenges the validity of IQ results as a measure of intelligence. Some researchers are skeptical about the very concept of general intelligence, which IQ measurements are intended to measure.

IQ tests can also discriminate against certain groups. Many early IQ tests are now widely recognized as having caused bias, perhaps even design, against color, women, and other marginalized groups. Current IQ tests do not deliberately cause discrimination, but they may be biased. IQ tests can inadvertently try not for information, but for cultural knowledge that sovereign groups are more likely to have.

Groups that have been historically exposed to oppression can also experience stereotypical threats when receiving standard tests. When a person is exposed to stereotypes about his team, stress levels may increase. Stress in turn can undermine their performance. Even something like seemingly innocuous as completing a demographic survey before taking a test can trigger a stereotype threat.

The role of other forms of intelligence

G, the measurement of IQ tests for "general intelligence" is only one way to assess intelligence. Researchers, teachers and mental health professionals have identified many other forms of information.

Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner has identified nine types of intelligence:

  • Optical-spatial intelligence: the ability to display objects and navigate spatial relationships. It can be used to design, solve puzzle puzzles or design buildings.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence: the ability to know and understand oneself.
  • Interpersonal intelligence: the ability to understand and relate to others.
  • Music consciousness: the ability to recognize patterns in tone and rhythm, to be expressed through sound.
  • Linguistic intelligence: the ability to effectively use words, such as writing a convincing essay or a beautiful poem.
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence: ability to solve logical problems. It can be used in math and computer programming.
  • Kinetic-kinesthetic intelligence: the ability to effectively use the body in activities such as dance and sport. Often it includes skill, balance and other skills.
  • Existential intelligence: ability to address issues of being and spirituality.
  • Physical intelligence. the ability to work well with animals, recognize plants in nature, and so on.

According to Gardner, most people are capable in a few areas with limited skills in others. It is very unlikely that everyone could show complete confidence in all nine areas, undermining the concept of a true general intelligence.

Other researchers divide intelligence into IQ and EQ or emotional intelligence. The EQ measures the person's ability to recognize and respond to feelings, both to himself and others. Someone with high emotional intelligence can use understanding emotions to work well with others. Many researches show that the ability to understand and collaborate with others can predict success in many areas of life.

Even in spiritually demanding careers, emotional intelligence is often necessary. For example, a 2014 study shows that emotional intelligence is correlated with the success of medical students. According to the study, the ability to regulate the emotions of the individual was a particularly important predictor of success. The study even recommends medical schools to use emotional intelligence measures in their applications.

A 2010 study found that the ability to regulate emotions was a predictor of higher income and socio-economic status. It also provided greater general prosperity.

Treatment: a path to success Regardless of IQ

People who are worried about their intelligence or their progress towards success can find significant help from the treatment. In a limited number of cases, treatment can help someone feel smarter or perform better on an IQ test. For example, a person with anxiety test can reduce stress through treatment. Likewise, a person who struggles with motivation or impulsivity can learn more effectively after dealing with these problems with a therapist.

Even when treatment does not directly improve intelligence, it can still significantly increase a person's chances of success. Treatment can:

  • Help a person identify obstacles to success in work or relationships.
  • Boost the emotional and social intelligence of a person, helping him to work more effectively.
  • Move beyond impostor syndrome, chronic feelings of inadequacy and other forms of low self-esteem.
  • Determine what success looks like and then set specific goals for success.

An authorized therapist can help you feel smarter and more successful. Find a therapist today!

Bibliographical references:

  1. Balter, M. (2011, 25 April). What does IQ really do? Retrieved from
  2. The bias tendency is in most IQ tests. (2014, June 9). Retrieved from
  3. Côté, S., Gyurak, A., & Levenson, R.W. (2010). The ability to regulate emotions is linked to well-being, income and socio-economic status. Feeling, 10(6), 923-933. Retrieved from
  4. Hanscombe, K. B., Trzaskowski, M., Haworth, C. M., Davis, C. S., Dale, P., & Plomin, R. (2012). Socio-Economic Situation (SES) and Child Intelligence (IQ): In a representative sample of the UK, SES mitigates the environmental, non-genetic, impact on IQ. PLoS ONE,7(2). Retrieved from
  5. Howard Gardner's Theory of Multiple Intelligence [PDF]. (n.d.). University of Northern Illinois. Retrieved from
  6. Libbrecht, N., Lievens, F., Carette, B., & Côté, S. (2014). Emotional intelligence predicts success in the medical school. Feeling, 14(1), 64-73. Retrieved from
  7. Martschenko, D. (2018, February 1). The IQ Test Wars: Why control the information is still so controversial. The conversation. Retrieved from
  8. Rosales, J. (n.d.). The racist principles of the standardized test. Retrieved from
  9. Schmidt, F.L. & Hunter, J. (2004). General cognitive ability in the world of work: Professional success and job performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86(1), 162-173. Retrieved from
  10. Standard Tests and Threat of Stereotypes. (2018, 12 March). Retrieved from
  11. Strenze, T. (2007). Intelligence and socio-economic success: A post-analytical review of timeless research. Intelligence, 35(1), 401-426. Retrieved from

© Copyright 2018 All rights reserved.

The previous article was written only by the author defined above. Any views and opinions are not necessarily expressed by Questions or concerns about the previous article may be directed to the author or published as a comment below.