According to new research, intelligence tests are as much a measure of motivation as they are of mental ability.
Researchers from Pennsylvania found that a high IQ score required both high intelligence and high motivation, but a low IQ score could be the result of a lack of either.
The team also found that incentives helped increase IQ scores by a noticeable margin.
The researchers analyzed previous studies of how material incentives affected the performance of over 2,000 people in intelligence tests.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, found that incentives increased all IQ scores, but particularly for those with lower baseline IQ scores.
The team tested how motivation impacted on the results of IQ tests and also on predictions of intelligence and performance later in life.
They were able to conclude that some individuals try harder than others in conditions where the stakes are low.
The study says, “relying on IQ scores as a measure of intelligence may overestimate the predictive validity of intelligence.”
Achieving a high score on an IQ test requires high intelligence and competitive tendencies.
Dr James Thompson, senior honorary lecturer in psychology at University College London, said in a statement that it has always been known that IQ test results are a combination of innate ability and other variables.
“Life is an IQ test and a personality test and an IQ result contains elements of both (but mostly intelligence). If an IQ test doesn’t motivate someone then that is a good predictor in itself.”
The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Angela Lee Duckworth, a psychologist who led the study, said in a statement: “IQ scores may predict various outcomes in life, but in part for reasons that intelligence tests weren’t designed for.”
“I hope that social scientists, educators, and policy-makers turn a more critical eye to any kind of measure, intelligence or otherwise as how hard people try could be as important to success in life as intellectual ability itself.”
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