Is IQ the same as intelligence?

Not really. Though there’s certain overlaps, intelligence and the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) are—in essence—two different, distinct concepts.

Intelligence is the ability to learn from experience, and to adapt to, shape, and select environments accordingly. IQ, on the other hand, is merely a quantitative measurement or score of said intelligence, based on a standardized test.

In short, intelligence can be said to be a virtue, and IQ a measurement of said virtue.

How the IQ was Conceptualized

In the 1900s, a psychologist named Alfred Binet was tasked by the French government to help identify students who were more likely require further assistance in their educational efforts.

Binet and his colleague, Theodore Simon, then designed a list of questions that would test students on what they’ve not been explicitly thought in school. They classified said areas into three specific categories: attention, memory, and generic problem-solving.

Upon prescribing such tests, Binet and Simon eventually came to a realization that some children were clearly more adept at others in their answering of certain advanced questions. This then birthed their conceptualization of mental age—more specifically, a relative measure of intelligence based on the average abilities of an age group.

The test described above is also widely known as the Binet-Simon Scale, and even more so as the first IQ test ever administered. All contemporary IQ tests have since been built upon such a basis, and will likely continue to in the future.

How the Quotient Works

Historically, IQ has been scored in two different ways. The first entails the participant’s determined mental age (from said IQ test) and dividing it by their chronological age, before multiplying it by a hundred.

In other words, the calculation for a twelve-year-old who has been found to have a mental age of eighteen would be: (15 ÷ 12) x 100 = 125

The second method, on the other hand, compares scores of each individual participant against that of their age group, by administering the test to representative samples and using the collected scores to facilitate the process of standardization, where individual scores can easily be compared to the inherently established norms.

The mean and median in most IQ tests are set at 100, for ease of assessing individual scores against the collective. In other words, if you’ve a score above 100, you can be said to possess above-average levels of intelligence.

Both intelligence and IQ are complex topics with much literature and discussion surrounding them. To find out more, you can read up on What is intelligence? and what about IQ? or simply click here for a full list of related topics.