How Does My IQ Affect Me? 2nd in a series on "Does Intelligence Matter?" by Deborah Ruf, PhD
Research shows us that the average IQ difference between people who marry each other or become soul mate best friends is about 12 points on the original IQ scale.
When I was ready for 4th grade, my family moved to an area where few families had college-educated parents. Although I hadn’t had a lot of friends before moving, I wasn’t aware of being alone. In my new school, I became teacher’s helper, but when I went home each day, I threw myself on my bed and sobbed with loneliness and sadness. I didn’t know what was wrong with me. Maybe it was the move and being new. I tried to be Class Clown and interrupted the teacher often to make jokes. Few kids laughed. I was trying every way I could to fit in, to make friends and to matter. One day, Tanya came up to me and said, “Debbie, I know you think you’re funny, but you’re not.” I was crushed. I didn’t know what to do.
During my 5th grade year, Pam moved into town and joined my class. We “got” each other. When she missed school, I was morose because I missed her so much. We loved each other, competed with each other, and were always measuring our own performances to that of the other. Our grades and test scores were always very, very close, so the competition was a fair one. We didn’t know it at the time, but we’ve learned since then that our IQs were the same and even our Miller Analogies Test scores were the same. She’s still one of my best friends today.
Hmmm. So what does this mean? Whether you have been tested for intelligence or not doesn’t alter the fact that you are a certain way and others see and “feel” how you are compared to them. Research shows us that the average IQ difference between people who marry each other or become friends is about 12 points on the integer IQ scale. Simply put, people who are similarly intelligent get each other’s jokes. What can be more magical than that for a relationship? If you “get me” and laugh at my jokes, I’m more likely to be drawn to you. Same is true in the other direction.
Now I want you to think about different times and places in your life where—without changing a thing about yourself—people liked you a lot (and thought you were funny or very interesting and wanted to be friends with you) or you felt that something was wrong with you, you were too boring or odd, and you just didn’t feel you belonged or fit in. For me, I was “Little Miss Social Butterfly” in 7th grade. As it turns out, that was the first year—it was called junior high back then—where the school “tracked” students by ability. Instead of being with a very wide range of learners, the range was narrowed enough that I took most of my classes with people who got my jokes (not that school officials planned that). Heck, Jeff and I had a crush on each other back then and when I saw him at a reunion years later and told him I am a High Intelligence Specialist, he rubbed his chin and said, “That’s funny. I never thought of you as particularly smart.” He was serious. I had so much fun just being my goofy, real self that I didn’t appear at all intellectual to many of my classmates and I was totally fine with that. I got mediocre grades, too, but didn’t even care because I was just so happy.
By 8th grade my school got split into two junior highs (a new school was built) and although we were still tracked, the ability range, due to having fewer students in the school, was wider and there were fewer kids as much like me as the year before. It was another sad, lonely, weird year for me. I didn’t understand it at the time. Pam was still in the school, but she was tracked with the kids who were in choir and I was tracked with the kids who took French. We drifted apart for a while.
My whole point here is that those who we get to spend our time with during our lives—most notably our school years—greatly affects how we feel about ourselves, whether or not we can make good friends, and whether or not we’re depressed or lonely during one long school day after another. Think about it. Now, here’s the technical stuff. I apologize ahead of time for getting so serious. My husband says the next paragraph is math class.
On that old ratio IQ scale that I discussed in the last blog entry, “What Is IQ?”—the one that goes past 200 IQ for the very smartest people—every point has the same value. It’s called an integer scale. Someone with an IQ of 115 is as different intellectually from a person with a 130 IQ as the 130 IQ person is different from a 145 IQ person. That’s not the case with the normalized standard (bell) curve points, though (such as the WISC-IV, SB5, CogAT, OLSAT). As scores move up from the average of 100, each point has more value. This means that someone who has an IQ is 115 will still be quite different from someone whose IQ is 130, but much more different than on the old scale. The 99th percentile encompassed more than 70 or 80 points on the old integer scale but only about 20 points on the standard intelligence scale. This means that a range of about 133 to 225 IQ is now scrunched into fewer than 20 points on the tests we use today. So, on modern tests, a lot of very smart people get the same scores without really being the same intellectually. Today’s tests aren’t as “descriptive (able to describe) intellectual differences in the superior to gifted ranges of intelligence as the original scales were.
If you have a best friend or soul-mate-significant-other—and you are pretty darned smart in the right side of the bell curve distribution—that 12 points on modern tests is closer to 3 to 6 points just because the scores in “the tails” are truncated (scrunched).
More to come.