Good and Bad Stigmas Attached to High IQ Test Results

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Colorful brain lobesEver since the I.Q. test was created by Alfred Binet and Theophile Simon, there has been a stigma, both good and bad attached to the results of the test. For some, the results are helpful in determining possible mental health issues. For others, it is a crushing blow or an instant pedestal that they don’t want to be on. No matter what your age (this two-year old has an IQ of 160, 60 points over the national average) a high score can have some consequences both good and bad.

About the I.Q. Test and Results

The I.Q. number is the result of a mathematical formula whose numbers are based on the age of the person taking the test as well as the results of the test itself. There are a variety of different tests that are included in the process. Each test measures its own distinct feature of the personality. Things like spatial relations, vocabulary and awareness of one’s surroundings are the things that are assessed during the procedure.

Scores and Uses

When all the results are compiled, what’s left is what is called a “mental age”. The mental age is then divided by the person’s actual age to come up with what is known as the “mental quotient”. The mental quotient is then multiplied by one hundred to reveal the “intelligence quotient”, or I.Q., which essentially reveals the level that a person is able to function at.

Up until the last couple of decades, it was standard practice or anyone who sought mental health assistance to be given an I.Q. test. The results were considered to be the foundation from which the treatment plan was laid. Unfortunately, this often worked against the patient because every facility they went to would repeat the test rather than having the results transferred. Undoubtedly this was for financial reasons, but it caused problems with accurate results. Though the facility could bill for the test, the results were often inaccurate due to the fact that the patient has already taken the test enough times that they were now familiar with it. The more intelligent patients even learned to manipulate the test.

Today the I.Q. test is generally given in order to determine a baseline number to start with and may be given later to compare results. This information would indicate progress or regression given that enough time was allowed between tests. Some mental health professionals believe that I.Q. results are the single most important indicators of a patient’s state of mind and intellectual abilities. It is often the basis for determining a status such as levels of mental retardation or brightness.

The average I.Q score is somewhere between 84 and 113, with some interpretations being varied depending on which scale is used. According to the DSM-IV, borderline retardation starts as high as 84 and the levels of retardation become more pronounced as the score gets lower. Most professionals consider anything over 115 to be gifted with scores of 164 and over being considered genius.

Translating the Scores into Real Life Meanings

Once the tests are complete and the I.Q. score has been assessed, it’s time to share the news with the patient or the guardian. There are two extremes to this scale and to be honest, either extreme can have the same strength on impact. The only difference is in the perception of the score and at what end of the scale the score falls on. For instance, you would be hard pressed to find someone who is anxious to hear that their score or the score of their loved one falls anywhere within the mental retardation range. (Please note that the term for “mental retardation changes from time to time, but essentially means that the individual has scored well below average on the I.Q. test.) Believe it or not, there are also those that dread hearing the words “gifted” or “genius” as much as the parent dreads “retardation”.

The problem with the labels themselves is that they often have an impact on how the person is treated or how they perceive themselves. They are somehow raised or lowered respectively within their own mind’s eye or the eyes of their loved ones. Yet, this person has many facets within them that have nothing at all to do with their intelligence quotient. The trials of those who are considered mentally retarded are well documented and even feared. The trials of those with a high I.Q. are just as diverse and painful, but are not as well documented or even considered.

Gifted or Cursed?

Those who are considered to be mentally retarded are often thought of as retarded in more ways than intellectually, and to be fair, this is sometimes the case, but may often be the result of how the environment has responded to the individual. There seems to be a correlation between the I.Q. and the social abilities of the individual. Those who are deemed s mentally retarded are often found to be very observant of other people and in some cases, even empathetic to an unusual extent.

For the person with the high I.Q., this correlation tends to work in reverse. They are often socially inept and awkward. People perceive them using higher expectations than they do for other people. These higher expectations added to the already inept social abilities can lead to a life of misery and preferred solitude as the one who is gifted seeks to find a comfortable environment and soon finds that solitude may be the only answer.

Issues Specific to High I.Q.’s

There are several issues that are specific to people who have high I.Q.’s. The higher the I.Q., the more acute these specific issues tend to be. One of the general problems is that it can be difficult for the individual to seek out assistance with these issues because they simply consider themselves to be odd, accept who they are and embrace those issues, or have found that after seeking out assistance, therapists and other mental health professionals tend to focus on the I.Q. rather than the individual.

Physical Problems

Those who have a high I.Q. tend to be physically inactive. The fact is that sometimes the thought processes they have tend to be so diverse and intense that they find little motivation or inclination towards physical activities. They are more comfortable performing tasks that require a great deal of articulation, logic, computation and research. In fact, sometimes their minds are what is known as “manic”, which in mental health terms means that they have racing thoughts and may act oddly. This situation can lead to a multitude of physical problems as the individual experiences a lack of sleep and physical exercise. Sometimes they become so preoccupied with their thoughts that they even forget to eat. Obviously this kind of lack of focus on physical well-being can lead to serious health complications.

To the individual, it simply means that there is so much cranial activity that they don’t know which thought to grab first and yet they want all of them at once. To understand this, consider the situation below.

You are in a room with your favorite things floating all around you. You attempt to grab one, only to find that another has just floated by at high-speed. You can’t grab them all because your hands are already full, so you try to get a bit from each one. Every now and then you are able to grasp one and focus on it, but then it becomes your complete focus, with everything else just rapidly floating by, nothing more than distractions at this point.

Lack of Social Skills

Sometimes there is a complete lack of social skills that comes with having a high I.Q. and should not reflect on you perception of the compassion of the individual in question. There is a certain lack of attention that makes the individual seem as if they don’t care about anyone around them. This is not the case at all, but perception is in the eye of the beholder.

Those thoughts that are rapidly flowing by are always present and able to be altered seemingly of their own whim. There is never a quiet moment in these minds. Hence, there is very little ability to grasp onto some social nuances that other people find so easy to identify and use. As a result, the person with the high I.Q. is often found to be staring into space or intensely watching some simple activity. Sometimes the activity is really just something for that person to focus their vision on while their mind does what it will. Other times they are trying to determine exactly what the activity is or fathom some simple detail of it. They may not even respond when you speak, but they aren’t intentionally ignoring you. They are simply lost in those random, floating thoughts.

Academic Problems

You might be shocked to learn that those with a high I.Q. very often experience serious academic problems. Academics would reasonably seem to be the easiest thing for them to do. In some cases, this is true, but there are instances when the details of a topic are so elusive in their simplicity that the person with a high I.Q. is simply unable to grasp them. Another problem with academics is the lack of stimulation. For example, someone who simply knows calculus inherently is going to be bored by simple geometry.

Math is the most common front to explain this phenomenon with. Below are some examples of how a person with a high I.Q. might struggle mathematically.

When it comes to geometry, every step has to be listed for every proof. If you are working with an obtuse triangle, you must first determine that it is an obtuse triangle, which comes with its own set of rules. A person with a high I.Q. might very well be unable to explain to you how they got the answer to the proof, never even realizing that they were supposed to list the reasons that the proof worked. They simply come to the conclusion so fast that they are unable to explain how they got there. This will of course result in the problem being marked wrong, even though the answer was correct.

Another example would include algebra. There are those who cannot do even pre-algebra, but can flawlessly work their way through calculus. Again, they don’t think of the steps singularly. They simply come to the correct conclusion without being able to explain how they got there. Likewise those same people will repeatedly check their work when it comes to simple addition and subtraction.

Intimate Relationships

Most people seek to have intimate relationships. In doing so, they are aware that they will be expected to offer some level of attention and bits of themselves. The problems start before the relationship is even active. The person with a high I.Q. and logical thought process will be processing every possible outcome and avenue that could occur with this relationship. Over a simple cup of coffee and in just a matter of minutes, the one with the high I.Q. can completely analyze the potential outcomes of the relationship before it ever begins and even if the relationship is pursued, they are likely to continue this process through the entire course of the relationship.

How to Deal with Someone Who has a High I.Q.

Perhaps you’re reading this because you have a high I.Q. and are wondering if it’s ever going to be possible for you to have a normal relationship. Or, maybe you know and care for someone who has a high I.Q. and you’re wondering if they are ever going to just embrace the moment or seem more emotionally available than they currently do.

Keep in mind that many people who have a high I.Q. seem to either feel cursed by it, or go to the other end of the spectrum and seem to be a bit pompous about it. It’s still possible to get close to them. You simply have to stop seeing them as an I.Q. number. Sometimes you may have to gently persuade them to see themselves as more than an I.Q. number as well and keep in mind that a large part of their social experiences have included people reacting to the intelligence and not the person.

Have patience. Be willing to give some space. Quiet time to a person with a high I.Q. isn’t quiet for them at all. Rather it may be the time when they are finally able to grasp just one thought and do something useful with it. It wouldn’t hurt to remind them of the simple pleasures of life either, even if stopping to smell a flower also means listening to a detailed explanation of how and why that particular flower has that particular scent.

Test your IQ

Want to see how you measure up? Watch this video which asks 10 quick questions to test your knowledge and see how you think.

About The Author:

Kimberly received her Bachelor of Arts in multimedia journalism from Simpson College. She is one of Exploring Life's Mysteries most experienced researchers. When reviewing products and services her natural curiosity helps her dig deep and unearth the truth behind the marketing. Her work has appeared in many notable brands, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Reader's Digest, Forbes, People, Woman's World, and Huffington Post.

Kimberly grew up camping at the nearby lake with her family when she was a young girl. It wasn't until she met her husband that she rediscovered her love for the outdoors and began taking regular vacations to the national parks. Some of Kimberly's favorite memories include camping in a tent, hiking beautiful terrains, sitting around a campfire eating s'mores and sipping on a cold craft beer.

After three years of dating and exploring different regions of the U.S., Kimberly's husband proposed to her with the help of Exploring Life's Mysteries' online engagement content that she had researched and written. Not only was he able to design her ring himself, he was able to do so at great cost savings.

Kimberly likes starting her days with a warm cup of Nespresso, and she enjoys going for walks with her family and hound mix, Sally. In the evenings, she likes indulging in a glass of red wine and some dark chocolate while cozying up by the fire pit in her backyard.

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