Genetics Impact on Intelligence

Genetics Impact on Intelligence

 

Was Einstein a genius because he inherited good genes?  That is just one of the questions some new research may be able to determine.  According to the article A Genetic Code for Genius in the Wall Street Journal, “In China, a research project aims to find the roots of intelligence in our DNA.”

There is no denying that emotional intelligence has become a buzz word in HR.  Employees’ emotional quotient or EQ may sometimes be more important than their IQ.  However, the roots of many personality and intelligence issues like IQ still remain a mystery.  According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Studies show that at less half of the variation of intelligence quotient, or IQ, is inherited. Truly important genetics that affect normal IQ variation have yet to be pinned down.”

The average person has an IQ of 100 and Nobel laureates have an average IQ of 145. In a study of intelligence in China, the researchers are looking at individuals who have an IQ of over 160.  To date, studies have not been large enough to give very useful information about IQ and genetics.  This latest study “will compare the genomes of 2,200 high-IQ individuals with the genomes of several thousand people drawn randomly from the general population.”  The problem is finding the people with such an extremely high IQ.  The researchers likened it to finding a bunch of people over 6-foot-9 inches tall.

Related Articles

IQ and the Flynn Affect

 

Professor James Flynn is a New Zealand researcher who is known for studying intelligence.  The Flynn Affect refers to, “the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.”

There is a debate about whether IQ scores are improving without a corresponding rise in intelligence. There is even conflicting reports that IQ scores are dropping. If they are actually rising, some speculate that there are a number of contributing factors including: education, technology, nutrition, and removal of toxins from the environment.

While countries have made gains of up to 25 points in intelligence, there may be difficulty making comparisons due to testing measures. Some tests are based on fluid intelligence, while others are based on crystalized intelligence.  For explanations about these intelligence tests, check out: The Flynn Affect

David Shenk, author of the article The Truth About IQ explained, “IQ tests measure current academic abilities — not any sort of fixed, innate intelligence. More specifically, the best-known IQ battery, “Stanford-Binet 5,” measures Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Collectively, these skills are known as “symbolic logic.” Among other things, IQ tests do not measure creativity; they do not measure “practical intelligence” (otherwise known as “street smarts”); and they do not measure what some psychologists call “emotional intelligence.”

Flynn’s most recent research had some important findings for women.  In the ABC News article Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for the First Time, author Carrie Gann explained, “James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.”

To find out more information about factors that affect IQ, check out the following articles:

Related Articles:

Are Women Making Teams Smarter?

Harvard Business Review recently published an article about how having women on a team makes the team smarter.  Although they didn’t find a correlation between the collective intelligence of the group and the IQ of individuals within that group, they did find that if women were in the group, the collective intelligence was higher. 

The Female Factor:  The chart plots the collective intelligence scores of the 192 teams in the study against the percentage of women those teams contained. The red bars indicate the range of scores in the group of teams at each level, and the blue circles, the average. Teams with more women tended to fall above the average; teams with more men tended to fall below it.

Professors Anita Wooley (Carnegie Mellon) and Thomas Malone (MIT) gave “subjects aged 18 to 60 standard intelligence tests and assigned them randomly to teams. Each team was asked to complete several tasks—including brainstorming, decision making, and visual puzzles—and to solve one complex problem. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had members with higher IQs didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.”

Finding the right mix of people on a team has been a consideration many organizations have dealt with in the past.  These researchers hope to see how this information can help teams perform better in the future through changing members or incentives. 

In the past, I taught teams how to get along better through the use of the Myers Briggs MBTI personality assessment instrument.  Through understanding personalities, team members could learn about each other’s preferences for how they like to obtain information. This became more useful to the team as a whole.  In my training experience, I found that even if a team had members with high IQ’s, they needed to understand why other members of the teams did the things they did and required the information they required in the format that fit their needs.  It was important to understand the collective needs of the team in order for the team to be successful. 

With the study by Wooley and Malone, they bring up the use of their findings in understanding collective intelligence.  According to Malone, “Families, companies, and cities all have collective intelligence. But as face-to-face groups get bigger, they’re less able to take advantage of their members. That suggests size could diminish group intelligence. But we suspect that technology may allow a group to get smarter as it goes from 10 people to 50 to 500 or even 5,000. Google’s harvesting of knowledge, Wikipedia’s high-quality product with almost no centralized control—these are just the beginning. What we’re starting to ask is, How can you increase the collective intelligence of companies, or countries, or the whole world?”

Important Facts about IQ Tests

In the old Bob Newhart Show where Newhart plays a psychologist, there is a great episode where his wife Emily takes an intelligence test and discovers she is smart enough to be included in Mensa Society.  Newhart’s score was not nearly as high as his wife’s which leads to his feeling of insecurity.  At a Mensa convention, this painful reality is driven even further home as he mingles with other Mensa members that show off how they can say their name backward.  When they all have an interesting way of announcing their reversed names, they ask him how to say his backward, where he disappointingly replies, “Bob”.

How important are IQ tests?  According to NursingDegree.com, “Even though its accuracy and reliability have been criticized over the past few decades, the IQ test continues to be the most widely used test for assessing mental ability.”  In their article 10 Interesting Facts about IQ Tests, the authors cover areas such as:  The difference between men and women’s intelligence; how IQ relates to breastfeeding; birth order and IQ; and much more.  To see this list, click here.

Young Boy Has Higher IQ Than Einstein

The video below of young Jake Barnett shows his amazing brain and abilities at the young age of 12.  With the recent movie release of Limitless with Bradley Cooper, there is a lot of focus on the brain and its potential. 

At the age of 3, young Jake was diagnosed with autism.  Parentdish reported, “But today, 12-year-old Jake is studying electromagnetic physics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and has an IQ of 170, higher than that of Albert Einstein. And he’s astounding university professors by developing his own theory of relativity — they’re lining him up for a Ph.D research role, Barnett, of Noblesville, Ind., says.” To read Jake’s amazing story, click here.

Controlling Emotions at Work: Part of Core Employment Skills?

 

Lesley Wright’s recent article in the Arizona Republic offered some insight into a new book by author and ASU professor Vincent Waldron.  Waldron’s book, titled, “Communicating Emotion at Work”, due later this year, will include information from his 20 years of studying emotions in the workplace.

In the book, “It’s Not You It’s Your Personality” similar topics are covered in chapters about emotional intelligence and concern for impact.  Concern for impact may be defined as how much we care about how others perceive us.  In the Arizona Republic article, “Waldron argues that emotional communication should be a core employment skill.”  Emotions are a buzz word in the workplace since Daniel Goleman helped increase the popularity of emotional intelligence with his book about why emotional intelligence could matter more than IQ. Books about emotions in the workplace can be a very effective tool to help explain why people act the way they do.  This can be very important, especially in a team setting.  As more companies are creating teams, understanding one’s fellow employees and their emotions can be critical to the success of a team and their projects.

Some of the things that Waldron pointed out in his interview with Wright tied into having concern for impact which can be an important part of one’s success in the workplace. Waldron claims, “The theme of this book is that emotions, both positive and negative, have in a sense evolved to serve a purpose. Emotional communication is a tool for making our organizations and our lives richer, more moral, more humane and potentially building better workplaces. Sometimes that means regulating and suppressing emotions. So we need to be competent at understanding the emotions and learning to regulate them. I’m sort of arguing for a heightened awareness of how emotion makes us good. I don’t think there is any competitive disadvantage to being emotionally competent.”

Are Humans Getting Dumber as Our Brains are Shrinking?

Did you know that our brains are actually shrinking? NPR.org reported, “Cro-Magnon man, who lived in Europe 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, had the biggest brains of any human species.  In comparison, today’s human brain is about 10 percent smaller.”

The human brain is still an enigma is many respects.  Are there differences in the human brain that cause people like Einstein to achieve so much?  Studies were completed on Einstein’s brain and they actually found he had some differences.  There is speculation that due to the way that Einstein’s brain was missing a part of a bordering region, that this enabled neurons to communicate more efficiently.  

With all of the technological inventions, one might think that people should be getting smarter. However, in the NPR article, this decreasing in brain size may have a negative impact, “The experts aren’t sure about the implications of this evolutionary trend.  Some think it might be a dumbing-down process. One cognitive scientist, David Geary, argues that as human society grows increasingly complex, individuals don’t need to be as intelligent in order to survive and reproduce.” 

If this is true, the movie Idiocracy may be foreshadowing some frightening possibilities.  The movie displays what life would be like if people continue on their current path of finding entertainment in reality shows, tattooing, partying and enjoying other less than useful activities.  This movie seemed to play off of studies done by Lentz in 1927 that claimed the intelligent people were having fewer children than the less intelligent people.  This would lead to a society of less intelligent people.  The Examiner claims Lentz’s work has merit, stating “This conjecture has been confirmed by studies like that of Hernstein and Murray (1994), who demonstrated that in the U.S. females with an average IQ of 111 had 1.6 children, whereas females with an average IQ of 81 had 2.6 children.”

The Examiner claims that there is hope for improvements, though, due to something called the Flynn effect. “Even if genotypic IQ is heading towards a decline across the world, there is still phenotypic intelligence that has increased over the last few generations. This phenomenon, also known as Flynn effect, is attributable to advancements in nutrition, education, and a more intellectually stimulating environment. The Flynn effect has led to gains of 7.5 IQ points a generation, much greater than .43 IQ points decline in genotypic IQ.”
There is something called Spearman’s g that refers to one’s general intelligence that was postulated in 1904 by Charles Spearman.  g, written in lower case like, now refers to general intelligence. A neuroscientist named John Duncan explained Spearman’s work in his book How Intelligence Happens.  The Wall Street Journal explained, “Mr. Duncan makes a convincing case that these brain areas constitute a special circuit that is crucial for both Spearman’s “g” and for intelligent behavior more generally. But his book elides the question of whether this circuit is also the source of IQ differences. That is, do people who score high on IQ tests use the frontal and parietal areas of their brains differently from people who score lower? The answer, discovered by other researchers, turns out to be yes.”

It appears that our brains are decreasing in size, more people with lower IQ scores are having children, but we can increase our education and nutrition.  We can also learn more about how our frontal and parietal areas can be improved.  There is hope that we are not necessarily headed for an Idiocracy-like future.

How to Get a Job: Why Employers Value Emotional Intelligence

Check out why it is so important to understand how your emotional intelligence may impact your ability to get a job.  If you are interested in reading the book by Daniel Goleman that I refer to here, it is called Emotional Intelligence: Why it Can Matter More than IQ.   In our book,  It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I write about the major personality tests that employers use.  We include a very detailed chapter about the importance of understanding emotional intelligence in the workplace.  

Facial Recognition and Emotional Intelligence

I have quite a few of my doctoral students who are working on their dissertation on emotional intelligence.  In our book, It’s Not You It’s Your Personality, Toni Rothpletz and I include a chapter about emotional intelligence.  When I wrote my dissertation on the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance, I found one book to be particularly useful in explaining the different models.  If you are researching emotional intelligence, I would suggest reading:  Emotional Intelligence:  Key Readings on the Mayer and  Salovey Model.   I think another very interesting and useful thing to read on the topic is this article by Mayer, et al,  Human Abilities: Emotional Intelligence.  It has some very comprehensive information about emotional intelligence, the difference approaches and measurement techniques, as well as what it does and does not predict. No list of important reading in the area of emotional intelligence would be complete without mentioning Daniel Goleman’s book as well . . . See: Emotional Intelligence:  Why it Can Matter More than IQ.

One of my students is looking into adding the facial recognition aspect to her studies.  If you missed my blog about taking facial recognition quizzes, click here.   For those of you who have seen the TV show Lie to Me, they have some interesting research they tie into that show about facial recognition.  Dr. Paul Ekman’s work  was the inspiration for this show.  On his site, he discusses whether you can be like the show’s character Cal Lightman.  Ekman does a review of the show on a blog where he points out what is based on truth and what is not.   Eckman has produced some courses for facial recognition called the Microexpression Training Tool or METT and the Subtle Training Expression Tool SETT.  Click here for more information.  To find out more about Dr. Ekman’s books, including one he wrote with the Dalai Lama, click here.

You May Be Looking For A Job But Your Emotional Intelligence May Be What Needs Work

The job market is over-crowded with applicants all applying for the few coveted jobs.  What makes one person stand out in the crowd over another?  One thing may be their emotional intelligence.  Emotional intelligence (EI) has become a buzz word in the last 10-15 years, thanks mostly to Daniel Goleman who has popularized EI through several mainstream books.  Goleman’s definition of EI is not the only definition of EI.  In fact, there are several authors who have defined EI in slightly different ways. I think one of the basic and most easily understood definitions is:  Emotional Intelligence is the ability to understand one’s own emotions as well as those of others.

Why do employers care about this?  By having the ability to understand other people’s emotions, you can have more empathy, social intelligence and interpersonal skills.  In my dissertation, I examined the relationship between emotional intelligence and sales performance.  I did indeed find that a correlation existed between the two. Those with higher EI levels did produce more sales.  Employers know about the importance of having EI now and are looking for it in their potential employees. 

What if your emotional intelligence quotient or EQ is low?  The good news is that Goleman and others have shown that EI can be improved.  I would recommend reading Daniel Goleman’s book, Emotional Intelligence: 10th Anniversary Edition, Why it Can Matter More Than IQ. Another important book is by Authors such as Hughes, Patterson, and Terrell, who offer training activities that help develop specific areas of emotional intelligence. Although their book, Emotional Intelligence in Action, is aimed at leaders, it would be helpful to those looking for exercises to develop their emotional intelligence.