I am a great fan of Annie Murphy Paul and her work on learning and intelligence. Here’s what she says about our IQ.
The old view of intelligence is that it’s something like your height: it is what it is; it doesn’t matter how many times you measure it, it will always stay the same.
However, we’ve discovered that that really isn’t the case at all. It’s highly responsive to each situation you find yourself in. In other words, your environment.
- Being worried about money reduces your IQ by 13 points.
- Feeling lonely reduces it by eight points.
- Insufficient sleep reduces your IQ by one point for each hour short of eight hours of sleep you get per night.
- Even changing your sleep pattern at the weekend, reduces it by seven points.
- Being concerned about your performance reinforcing a negative stereotype about your group, lowers your IQ by 15 points.
- And listen up, all you students intending to pull another all-night cramming session before your next exam. By doing so, you will reduce your IQ score by a massive 13 points! You will go into your exam, stupid!
- Being interrupted by a phone ringing while studying, reduces your IQ by a massive 25%! Turn the thing off! You can manage without it for a short while!
- Feeling uncomfortable about competition; being the victim of bullying: allowing your mind to wander; being taught maths by an anxious instructor… all are known to have a negative impact on your intelligence, as measured in an IQ test.
But the good news is that to the extent that you can control your environment, you can increase your IQ!
“How?” I hear you ask.
Annie goes on to tell us of some of the easy improvements we can make:
- Feeling good about yourself and your accomplishments raises your IQ by four points.
- Regular mindfulness increases it by 10 points.
- Your teacher setting a high expectation raises it by 12 points.
- Being offered a financial reward (now there’s motivation!) for doing well in your IQ test raises the very thing it’s measuring, by 15 points.
- Walking in a natural setting or looking at nature pictures, increases scores on memory and attention tests by 20%.
Other ways of increasing your memory and intelligence include:
- Answering short, ungraded questions on material that has just been presented to you.
- Making a list, or drawing a diagram of all the things you are, other than just a test-taking student.
- Focusing on depth and enquiry, rather than superficial content.
- Knowing that you’re in the same boat, and that everyone else struggles too before becoming more confident and capable as time goes on.
- Spending 10 minutes writing about your anxieties, right before your test. (It’s like a brain-dump of the problem and frees your brain to think more clearly.)
- And for girls, seeing images of female scientists, having the exam administered by a confident female, reading a biography of successful females etc. all raise girls’ expectations of themselves, and their grades too.
These are some of the foundations on which I built Genius Material.
No wonder it works so well.