Does IQ matter?
Yes, IQ matters. Indeed, according to science, there is absolutely no doubt about it. IQ matters, and it matters a lot. It has been proven to correlate with the most important life outcomes of the individual, such as academic performance, job success, financial income, or even longevity.
How does IQ matter? Why does IQ matter?
IQ and success go hand in hand. IQ has been shown to be the most valid and reliable construct of all the social sciences.
Maybe the most striking of the aforementioned life outcomes IQ correlates with is longevity.
Apparently, people with higher IQs tend to live a bit longer on average. This makes a lot of sense, since low IQ also correlates with drug use and criminality. In addition, if people with high IQs tend to get further in life and harvest greater financial success, that means they also have greater access to all sorts of resources; they can afford houses in neighborhoods with lower rates of criminality, and they have access to a greater extent of medical resources, among others. This means they will undoubtedly live longer than people with low IQs.
As another curious fact, obesity tends to be more common among poorer people in the US, which could also be another reason contributing to that striking statistic.
IQ is also correlated with happiness, though the correlation is not excessively strong. Since IQ correlates with wealth, and wealth correlates with happiness (to a certain extent), then it makes sense to say that IQ does correlate with happiness. Of course, that is just one of the many potential causes behind such a correlation.
There are also other studies that have shown no correlation between IQ and well-being or happiness.
Indeed, there are other personality factors that present important correlations with happiness, like neuroticism and extraversion.
How much does IQ matter?
The extent to which IQ matters depends on several factors, especially, on the field in which that IQ is going to be used.
IQ is key and indispensable for computer-science, physics or math. Research points out it might also have a very important influence on engineering. For certain humanity-related fields, IQ is not that important, achieving an important degree of success is still possible without the need for exceptionally high IQs. In many other fields, though IQ might give an advantage, there are also other important traits that are key to success, such as social and interpersonal skills in the fields of HR and sales. There are other fields in which IQ does not matter at all, such as in sports. Your physical ability, and more importantly, your specific talent with your target sport, will be what will be key to success, and not IQ.
The extent to which we can say that IQ matters will also depend on the IQ level being considered. Having an IQ that is extremely below average, such as an IQ of 70, will definitely influence someone’s life more than having an IQ of 130.
Having an IQ of 130 will give you a tremendous advantage, but nothing is yet guaranteed. However, having an IQ of 70 does guarantee with 100% of certainty that all the areas of your life will be impacted in a very massively destructive manner. Indeed, 70 is the cut point for mental retardation.
Having an IQ of 160 will change someone’s life more than having an IQ of 120. For instance, a person with an IQ of 160 can easily be attending university at the age of 15.
Last, the importance of IQ will also depend on your life goals. If you just want to live a normal life with happiness and fulfillment as the main targets, having a high IQ will help, but it won’t be the most important factor. There are other personality traits that will be more determinant in that respect, such as neuroticism. The higher your levels of neuroticism, the easier you will experience negative emotion, and thus the less happy you will tend to feel in life.
Even your health is important for the said purposes and will affect and condition your life, in some instances, even way more than your IQ.
Would you rather have an IQ of 160 but suffer from ALS, or have perfect health but an average IQ?
So.. does IQ even matter in life?
In conclusion, it matters in terms of competence (eg: job or academic success). When it comes to relationships and happiness, the scientific research is a bit mixed. However, some studies say people with high IQs tend to be better in the sphere of social relationships, they tend to have higher self-regulation skills, and overall, they tend to be happier (at the end of the day, people with higher IQs tend to earn more, and income has been shown to be correlated with happiness).
IQ matters, after all, it is a personality trait that has been shown to correlate with important life outcomes. However, as we have seen throughout the article, it is not strictly necessary to have a high IQ in order to build skill and competence or to be successful. Yes, IQ increases the likelihood of being successful, but it does not tell the whole story, there are other factors that are very relevant in life as well.
There is no need to stress about it, most people have average IQs (obviously, that’s why it is called “average IQ”) and, at the end of the day, there are things that matter in life much more than reasoning ability, like family, friends, or the mere fact of being alive and sentient. It is not necessary to be a genius to be good, nor to be happy. Your friends will not like you for your IQ, but for how much of a good friend you are, for how much of a support you are in their lives. “Being average” is cool, and, regardless of how much people hate being called that, in reality, there’s nothing wrong with it.
If you would like to find a fun estimate of your reasoning ability and see how you compare against others, you can take our free iq test by clicking on the link in the menu (on “take the IQ test”). You will get your IQ score for free. You can invite your friends to take the test and see who scores higher. Whoever does, should be paid a dinner or at least a beer by the whole group.
Muhammad Ovais is Ph.D. from Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), National Center for Nanoscience and Technology of China. His research interests are in Neurodegenerative diseases, Nanomedicines and Biomaterials. He is the recipient of over 30 international awards including, 2019 Outstanding International Researcher by the Ministry of Education, China and 2019 Premium Award for Best Research Paper by IET-Institution of Engineering and Technology, UK. He owns to his credit over 60 scientific articles including research studies, reviews, editorials and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals/publishers such as, Advanced Materials-Wiley, NanoToday-Elsevier, Nanomedicine-Future Medicine, with h-index of 30. He is the co-founder of Synthon Nanotech, a Netherlands based Startup Company developing peptides and also working as a Tech Ethicist for a US based company GenoEmote; that is developing novel Brain-Computer Interface technologies.