Today, most psychologists think intelligence tests are limited in what they can measure and what they can be used for. Intelligence tests can’t be used to predict success in life. Even some of the people who first developed the tests started to see this. For example, as early as 1947, Lewis Terman and his colleagues realized that IQ alone couldn’t always predict a person’s achievement in life. Terman designed a long-term study of children who scored in the highest range—the top one percent—of the Stanford-Binet Test. This means the children all had an IQ of 140 or higher. The purpose of the study was to see whether a high IQ would predict genius and great achievement in adulthood. The researchers found that this high—IQ group of people did become more academically and professionally successful than their peers of average intelligence. However, none of them achieved true genius. On the contrary, some of the subjects didn’t fulfill their potential or make much of themselves. What these results point out is that intelligence tests alone can’t predict greatness or achievement in life.
A major problem with intelligence tests is that there’s a lot of disagreement on just how to define intelligence. Many psychologists now think that most intelligence tests are really just testing a child’s ability to do well in school—what we might call “school-house intelligence.” The concept of IQ is useful in identifying school-house intelligence, but IQ can’t explain the source of original ideas and beautiful creations.
In the past thirty years, psychologists have been coming up with new definitions and theories of intelligence. One of the most prominent theories is that a person’s motivation and creativity are more important than a high IQ in predicting achievement. Creativity is the ability to think about something in new ways and come up with unique solutions to problems. Psychologists believe that most intelligent people are motivated people. They have high energy and drive and are interested in many things. They know how to use their skills to find creative solutions to real-life problems.