Are IQ Scores a Good Predictor of General Intelligence?

Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Check out this answer from Consensus:

IQ scores are a strong but imperfect predictor of general intelligence. They correlate highly with cognitive performance and psychometric g, and are influenced by both brain structure and environmental factors. However, other cognitive abilities and environmental influences also play significant roles in determining general intelligence. Therefore, while IQ scores are useful, they should be considered as part of a broader assessment of cognitive abilities.


The question of whether IQ scores are a reliable predictor of general intelligence has been a topic of extensive research and debate. IQ tests have been widely used in educational and psychological assessments to measure cognitive abilities. However, the extent to which these scores reflect an individual’s overall intelligence, including their potential for learning and problem-solving, remains a complex issue. This article reviews the current literature to evaluate the predictive validity of IQ scores for general intelligence.

The Relationship Between IQ and Cognitive Performance

Several studies have investigated the relationship between IQ scores and performance on various cognitive tasks. One study analyzed 28 measures derived from 16 cognitive tests in 221 adults, finding that individuals with higher IQ scores performed significantly better on most cognitive measures1. This suggests that IQ scores are indeed predictive of cognitive performance, particularly among individuals with average or below-average IQ.

IQ as an Indicator of Psychometric “g”

IQ scores are often considered to be indicators of psychometric “g,” or general intelligence. A study using joint confirmatory factor analysis found that IQ scores have high correlations with general factors representing psychometric g, with g loadings ranging from .88 to .952. This strong correlation supports the validity of IQ scores as measures of general intelligence, although it also highlights that IQ is not a perfect measure and other factors may contribute to cognitive abilities.

Structural Brain Variation and IQ

Research has also explored the neural correlates of IQ, examining how brain structure relates to intelligence. One study using voxel-based morphometry found that total brain volume accounts for about 16% of the variance in IQ scores, with specific brain regions showing significant correlations with higher IQ3. These findings underscore the distributed neural basis of intelligence and suggest that brain structure plays a role in cognitive abilities measured by IQ tests.

Beyond IQ: Other Predictors of General Intelligence

While IQ scores are strong predictors of general intelligence, they are not the only factors. A study investigating dynamic decision-making and implicit learning found that these variables are also related to general intelligence and can predict professional success beyond what is accounted for by IQ alone4. This indicates that other cognitive abilities, such as decision-making and learning, contribute to overall intelligence and should be considered alongside IQ scores.

The Malleability of General Intelligence

Environmental factors also play a significant role in shaping general intelligence. A study on the malleability of IQ found that general intelligence is influenced by both genetic and environmental factors, including epigenetic markers of dopamine neurotransmission5. This suggests that IQ scores can change over time and are not solely determined by innate cognitive abilities.

Limitations of Using IQ as a Covariate

Despite the strong correlations between IQ and general intelligence, some researchers argue against using IQ as a covariate in cognitive studies. One paper highlights that IQ scores are volatile and influenced by a range of factors, making them unsuitable as a covariate in studies of neurodevelopmental disorders6. This calls into question the appropriateness of using IQ scores to control for cognitive differences in research settings.


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Robert Sternberg has answered Likely

An expert from Cornell University in Education, Intelligence, Development Studies, Psychology

IQ scores are a measure of so-called “general intelligence,” but the real problem is that general intelligence as it has traditionally been defined is not so general. It does not take into account creative intelligence, practical intelligence (common sense), emotional intelligence, social intelligence, or wise uses of intelligence. 

As a society, we have made a stupid mistake by over-weighing not only tests of intelligence, but their proxies, such as SATs, ACTs, GREs, and the like. These tests do NOT measure our skills in solving important life problems. Look at all the high-IQ geniuses who have contributed to air pollution, water pollution, global climate change, overuse of antibiotics, weapons of mass destruction, and on and on. If those people are smart, why is humanity extinguishing itself by creating an environment that will be awful for our children, grandchildren, and beyond. If creating a world that is impossible to live in is intelligent, then the word has truly lost its head. Intelligence is about the “ability to adapt to the environment,” not to destroy it.


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Vittorio Daniele has answered Likely

An expert from University Magna Graecia in Macroeconomics, Economics

Yes, IQ test scores are a good proxy of general intelligence, if intelligence refers to abstract and logical reasoning. 


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Louis Matzel has answered Near Certain

An expert from Rutgers University in Genetics, Psychology, Neuropsychology

Most common IQ tests are good predictors of general intelligence. To appreciate this, we must ask how we expect intelligence to exert itself in our natural environments. For instance, it is reasonable to expect that more intelligent individuals will obtain more education, achieve better grades, have higher incomes, be healthier, happier, attain higher social status, be less likely to develop a drug addiction, and be generally more effective in their chosen occupations. (This list could be expanded to included hundreds of such predictors of life success.) So the question is, does an IQ test that is administered to a young child predict these later life outcomes that we believe are indicative of intelligence. The answer to this question is an overwhelming “yes”. IQ tests have enormous predictive capacity. I often hear from students that “IQ tests only measure test-taking ability” (something that they probably heard from a professor who was not familiar with the actual data). While this may be true in part (after all, every day is a test), it is overwhelmingly clear that performance on an IQ test predicts life outcomes that go well beyond what can be captured on a simple paper and pencil test.


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Vincenzo Varriale has answered Near Certain

An expert from Sapienza University of Rome in Intelligence, Psychometrics

Yes, the IQ score is the most valid predictor of intelligence level and academic achievement in adulthood, even when performed in primary school-age.

(i.e. see Mayes et al. (2009) IQ and neuropsychological predictors of academic achievement, Learning and Individual Differences,19(2), 238-241,


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Andreas Demetriou has answered Near Certain

An expert from University of Nicosia in Intelligence, Cognitive Science

IQ scores are accurate predictors of general intelligence, accounting for about 50% of its variance. The cognitive functions represented in modern IQ tests, such as working memory, inference, and environment-relevant knowledge, are important components of general intelligence.


Are IQ scores a good predictor of general intelligence?

Carmen Flores-Mendoza has answered Likely

An expert from Federal University of Minas Gerais State in Intelligence

If we understand that IQ is a metric that we use to quantify cognitive performance, we can infer that assessing general intelligence depends more of the quality of cognitive ability/intelligence tests. For instance, a battery of four tests measuring concentrated attention, digit symbol, digit span, and object assembly probably is not a strong predictor of general intelligence. On the other hand, a battery measuring abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, vocabulary, information is likely a strong predictor of general intelligence.

The g Factor written by Arthur Jensen provides an excellent explanation regarding general intelligence.

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