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Who Overestimates Their IQ The Most? Study Finds Young Men Aren't The Worst

This study found that older women have a tendency to overestimate themselves, too.

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Jack Dunhill

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Jack Dunhill

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

Jack is a Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer for IFLScience, with a degree in Medical Genetics specializing in Immunology.

Social Media Coordinator and Staff Writer

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Do you think you're smarter than you are? This study thinks it's all about age. Image credit: pathdoc/Shutterstock.com

A new study has highlighted just how much people may not know their own IQ, finding the largest disparities in young men and older women. Looking at both intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ), the results showed that younger males think their scores are significantly higher than they actually are; but, as we age, older women may then begin thinking they are better off.  

IQ is a hotly debated topic in science. Such a broad and intricate idea as “intelligence” cannot be measured by a single test (and definitely not one that you do on a random website), and scientists have found that generally controlling for social and environmental factors often nullifies IQ scores. 

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However, IQ has been linked with success in conventional measures of life achievements, such as better results in economic and academic pursuits. The debate continues on about whether IQ is even worth measuring at all; but, one thing that it can tell you is if someone brags about theirs, it probably isn’t that high. 

This study was less about looking at the IQ of people and more about whether their perceived IQ is close to their actual IQ, which is called self-estimated intelligence (SEI). SEI has been studied well in young people, but never in older people, and the authors wanted to change that. 

Taking a sample of 159 young people (90 women) and 152 older people (93 women, with an average age of 72), the researchers asked them an array of questions on their SEI, before subjecting them to a variety of tests to assess their IQ and EQ. 

The results showed that young men overestimated their IQ and EQ by between 5-15 points, agreeing with previous research in the area. However, researchers were surprised to find that in the older participants, the results were reversed, with older women reporting a higher SEI. Those that perceived themselves to be more attractive also reported higher SEI, suggesting it may just be all about self-confidence. 

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The researchers believe the study points to including age in studies about SEI, because it appears to have the largest impact out of all tested factors. They point out that these considerations should be used as a guide when assessing older women and younger men, as they may be less willing to get assessed due to their overestimated self-image. 

The study was published in Brain and Behavior.


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