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Sunday, 19 January 2014

IQ, Tests, and Convergent/Divergent Thinking

You can tell a lot about a person by how they gauge intellect. While some individuals judge others on what they say and do, many simply look at a test score or IQ to determine who is smart or stupid.

I blame public schooling for the latter mentality. It teaches us that those who specialize in convergent thinking are the cream of the crop. Basically, if you can find the single solution to an equation, you are intelligent and that's all that matters in school. Judging by numbers, be they grades, age, height or IQ has thus become the norm.

Divergent thinking, which is not measured by tests, involves creativity, imagination, wit, etc. In everyday life, there is rarely one answer for every problem. Issues with relationships, parenting, or finance can confuse even the best academics.

Many entrepreneurs exhibit divergent traits like initiative and vision, while the most enigmatic leaders have charisma. None of which is measured by a 'one question, one answer' test format.

Finally, creativity and imagination, the ability to create something from nothing, is not intrinsically linked with IQ.

"Psychologists have found that a high IQ alone does not guarantee creativity. Instead, personality traits that promote divergent thinking are more important. Divergent thinking is found among people with personality traits such as nonconformity, curiosity, willingness to take risks, and persistence." - Source

A trait like nonconformity is not accepted in schools, yet the revolutionaries and inventors of yesteryear have all been curious risk takers. They did things that would be deemed unwise by logical intellectuals, yet by taking such risks, they have changed the world.

I am not dismissing the need for convergent thinkers, because they help keep this technological and financial world running. However, in a brutal effort to squash rebellious behavior in schools, we are on a steady decline in divergent thinking.

Whatever your IQ or test scores may be, do not count yourself out, even if your peers will. We are lacking in innovation and revolutions, and only divergent thinkers can inspire originality.

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