IQ stands for intelligence quotient, and is one of a many ways of trying to quantify human intelligence.
IQ vs general intelligence
Colloquially, “IQ” is often conflated with the concept of general intelligence, when “IQ” is a test-specific result, typically a number that corresponds to an individual’s percentile score compared to the population the test is normed on. This score is usually affected by the test taker’s age (the scores of older tests were commonly determined by measuring ones performance on the test compared to one’s age, and calculating a numerical score from this ratio. However, this method has fallen out of disuse, as the scores given can become grossly inflated, and this method was also designed to be used primarily to measure the intellectual development of children). Unlike an IQ score, g is not a test-specific result but a concept that seeks to explain why performance on disparate measures of cognitive ability are positively correlated with each other. There is generally a strong link between IQ tests and g though, as the FSIQ score given by one of the broadest and most commonly used IQ tests, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, does correlate very highly with g (a g loading of up to .94 for the WAIS-IV FSIQ, though this varies by sample). A task in which people’s performance correlates with g and hence with all other IQ tests is said to be g-loaded. Generally, the more highly g-loaded sub-tests a particular IQ test contains, the more likely the test is an accurate measure of g, up to a threshold of around 13 subtests.
IQ and desirability
Evolutionary psychologists such as Geoffrey Miller, with his “mating mind theory,” have argued that high IQ is attractive. They argue this trait mostly evolved due to sexual selection pressures, claiming that human intelligence only could have developed to such a high degree because of sexual selection for intelligence. This is due to basic survival seemingly only requiring low levels of general intelligence.
There is indeed some evidence that intelligence may be under sexual selection, with one study showing that an IQ of 120 (90th percentile) is the most sexually attractive IQ score.
An important fact that no gender differences were observed in this study, despite it often being predicted by evolutionary psychologists that women should be more sensitive to partner cues of intelligence than men. This prediction is due to intelligence being moderately associated with socio-economic status. According to parental investment theory, women are more sensitive to partner cues indicating the ability to gain resources and status than men due to their greater investment rearing and nurturing their offspring than men. It is argued that men generally place a premium on fertility cues such as youth and physical attractiveness when evaluating potential female romantic partners, while women place a premium on wealth and status, at least for long term relationships.
The lack of sex difference in preference for intelligence, therefore, may indicate that if intelligence is/was under sexual selection, this selection may be in the form of selection of intelligence as a “ornament”, rather than it being desirable due to it being an indicator of good genes.
However, this study relied solely on self-reported preferences for intelligence (with intelligence presented in an abstract fashion of a certain percentile).
Other studies, using standardized intelligence tests to measure intelligence and examining the correlation between IQ and partner rated attractiveness in a speed-dating and video dating context, have found that only perceived intelligence and funniness are viewed as attractive in a potential romantic partner. There was no relation between objectively measured intelligence and desirability (with more intelligent people being correctly perceived by the participants as more intelligent but not as funnier), despite measured intelligence being detectable with a decent level of accuracy in short interactions.
IQ and sexual success
Many studies show consistent relationships between higher level of intelligence and lower rates of engaging in sexual activity. More intelligent people, especially at universities, tend to have less sex.
A study on the relationships between verbal intelligence and virginity rates found that teenage boys with a verbal IQ of two standard deviations above the median or above (130 IQ) were two-thirds less likely to lose their virginity compared to those with an IQ of 100. The relationship between higher IQ and lower odds of losing their virginity was linear for both boy and girls above a perfectly average IQ of 100, however, it was stronger for girls 130 IQ or above, who were four-fifths less likely to lose their virginity than girls with a perfectly average IQ of 100.
A German study suggested academics are at least twice as often incels as others (see demographics). Among women, a one-standard-deviation increase in childhood general intelligence (15 IQ points) decreases their odds of parenthood by 21–25%.
IQ and looks
Despite it being predicted by certain evolutionary theories that intelligence and physical attractiveness in humans would be expected to be correlated with each other due to the purported existence of a central “good genes” factor, empirical evidence for this claim is lacking.
A recent meta study of 1,753 identical and fraternal twins and their siblings found no correlation between facial attractiveness and IQ, and suggested studies that previously found a weak correlation suffered from halo effect as they involved attractiveness ratings of acquaintances.
While some studies show dramatic links between intelligence and physical attractiveness, these studies often suffer from serious methodological flaws such as using less accurate tests of general intelligence, using low numbers of raters, and the ratings themselves being seriously confounded by potential halo effects.
Higher quality studies, such as a recent meta study of 1,753 identical and fraternal twins and their siblings, generally find no correlations between facial attractiveness and IQ.
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