Intelligence and IQ are not the same. The IC is a measure (a number) of the “intelligence” trait that we all have to a greater or lesser degree compared to others. It is surprising that IQ measurements began to be made before we debated what the concept of intelligence really entails. Usually, it is the opposite, first the concept and then the measurements. If we study the history of the concept of IQ tests and the way in which it has been used (and abused), the development described above is clearly seen.

Origins of the CI

At the end of the 19th century, it was assumed that everyone had the same abilities and that people only differed from one another in the level of effort and upbringing. Charles Darwin thwarted that premise by suggesting variations as the driving force of natural selection and ancestry.

Galton, a cousin of Darwin, found that this premise was reflected in the exam notes for first-year students at the University of Cambridge. There were large differences in the grades of the students’ mathematics tests and Galton argued that these variations were due to (hereditary) differences in intellectual abilities (intelligence). In essence, the grades of these tests, like the current measures of school performance, were a measure of intelligence (almost equal to the IQ scores).

The use of IQ measurements and intelligence

The measurements of intelligence in its origins were designed to evaluate individual differences. Until today, the passage to the next school year and the choice of school has been determined in this way, although they are not based on real IQ test scores. There is nothing wrong with using these measures of intelligence, such as the ‘CI’, but the measurement of individual differences has also opened the way to the possibility of less positive use.

Therefore, over time, IQ tests have been used to perpetuate social differences or, for example, to return immigrants to their countries of origin based on their low intelligence. Also, the IQ tests have contributed to the origin of the eugenics movement.

The C of the “quotient”

The IC as an indicator of intelligence is a relative measure. People do not have a fixed IQ (as if they have a specific weight and height), but their IQ indicates their level compared to others. Compared to 50 Einstein’s, you would have a very low IQ, but compared to 50 children in second grade, you would have a much higher IQ.

Therefore, your IC is a score you get in relation to a group of other people. The mean of that group has been defined as 100; that’s why it’s called “quotient”. And that is why IQ is not the same as intelligence.

If you want more information about IQ and intelligence, read What is IC and what is intelligence? Or if you want to find out what your IQ score is, take the IQ test.

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