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11 uncomfortable facts about how your IQ affects your life

How does your IQ affect your life? From holidays to junk food, we take a look at the latest theories.

Image: Scott via Flickr / Creative Commons

WE WOULD LIKE to think that IQ isn’t the determining factor for success in life, but it turns out it may just be…

For example, psychology professors David Hambrick and Elizabeth Meinz recently wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times called Sorry Strivers, Talent Matters, where they cite a few scientific studies that point to innate talent – not practice – as what separates the good from the great.

That doesn’t mean that putting in the work won’t yield successful results; it just means that it can’t compete with outright intelligence.

Another idea is that intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are an accurate barometer of a person’s smarts.

This all goes against recent thinking on the subject — including Malcolm Gladwell’s thesis in Outliers, which says that hard work is a key predictor of one’s success.

As it turns out, many factors throughout our lives affect our IQ scores — and our IQ scores can greatly affect the outcome of our lives.

Here are 11 facts to mull over:

1. Despite the environmental effects on IQ, heritability still plays a bigger role in determining overall IQ – that’s according to the University of Delaware.

2. Contrary to popular belief, the higher your IQ, the more likely you’re socially smart. Though correlation does not prove causation, IQ is strongly correlated to educational, professional, economic and social success or failure, according to the University of Delaware.

3. Junk food diets for kids under three can lead to lower IQs – a study showed that children who ate processed junk foods before the age of three were shown to have a lower IQ than their peers by the time they were eight years old. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals was shown to do the opposite.

4. Breastfeeding can increase a child’s IQ. Children who are breastfed have an IQ three to eight points higher by age three than their non-breastfed peers, says Psychology Today.

5. Summer holidays can drop your IQ. Say it ain’t so! In Sweden, students that dropped out of school early lost 1.8 IQ points for each year they missed. A study in South Africa showed that for every year of delayed schooling, a child’s IQ dropped by five points, says Psychology Today.

6. People with a lower-than-average IQ (between 75 and 90) are more likely to drop out, go to jail and live in poverty, says the Mega Foundation.

7. For each one-point increase in a country’s average IQ, the per capita GDP was €173 higher, and can go up to €353 higher for each additional point, Psychological Science suggested following a study of 90 countries.

8. Lower IQ scores are linked to more suicidal feelings. Though there are multiple factors at work, Swedish researchers have drawn a link between lower IQ scores and suicidal feelings, says Scientific American.

9. People with low and high IQ scores can work almost any job at almost any level. But it becomes increasingly difficult to perform well in very complex or fluid jobs (such as management in an ambiguous, changing, unpredictable fields) with a lower IQ, says the University of Delaware

10. When you have a higher IQ, you’re more confident. Those who believe they are smart, and who have “proof,” will push themselves to live up to those expectations. Those who don’t may be haunted by their score, and convinced that they are doomed to a life of mediocrity.

11. Creative potential can be revealed in an IQ test.  That’s according to Dr Scott Kaufman, who says “thoughtful reasoning, divergent production, pattern detection, learning” are all part of the creative process, and are measured in an IQ test.

11 uncomfortable facts about how your IQ affects your life
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  • 1. Family

  • 2. Social smarts

  • 3. Junk food

  • 4. Breastfeeding

  • 5. Dropping out

  • 6. Jail

  • 7. GDP

  • 8. Suicidal feelings

  • 9. Work

  • 10. Confidence

  • 11. Creative potential

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Business Insider
Business Insider is a business site with strong financial, media and tech focus.

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