IQ is Irrelevant

Under construction…


A research review from 2014 found that two personal qualities can predict academic success four times more than your IQ.

The study, carried out by Dr Arthur Poropat and published in the journal Learning and Individual Differences, found that these two qualities were:

  • Being open to experience
  • Conscientiousness

In the most recent edition of psychiatry’s official guide, the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” (DSM-5), there has been a shift away from IQ scores to measure the degree of intellectual disability. Instead, the DSM-5 uses age-standardized adaptive functioning scores to gauge functional needs. These scores encompass communication, interpersonal skills, social responsibility, personal care and safety — skills that enable independence in the face of changing environmental demands.


Yet we now know that it is not really possible to match IQ to a designated level of function. Relying on IQ and using labels such as ‘high functioning’ and ‘low functioning’ minimizes the daily difficulties encountered by all autistic individuals. It also can obscure considerable unmet needs. Or, as the autistic writer and advocate Laura Tisoncik eloquently put it: “The difference between high functioning and low functioning is that high functioning means your deficits are ignored, and low functioning means your assets are ignored.”


How much is a child’s future success determined by innate intelligence?  One economist How much of the difference between people’s incomes can be tied to IQ.  Data suggests only about 1 or 2 percent.

So if IQ is only a minor factor in success, what is it that separates the low earners from the high ones?  A key factor (in addition to luck) is likely to be personality.

Researchers have found financial success was correlated with conscientiousness, a personality trait marked by diligence, perseverance and self-discipline.


The study found that grades and achievement-test results were markedly better predictors of adult success than raw IQ scores. That might seem surprising — after all, don’t they all measure the same thing? Not quite. Grades reflect not just intelligence but also what Heckman calls “non-cognitive skills,” such as perseverance, good study habits and the ability to collaborate — in other words, conscientiousness. To a lesser extent, the same is true of test scores. Personality counts.