What are the Extremes of Intelligence?
Intelligence tests have painted a bell curve to graph the distribution of intelligence across the general population. Most people fall in the middle of the graph, and they are considered the average scorers. But some, or rather, very few people fall on the far left and then the far right of the curve. These people are either mentally retarded or "gifted."
Mental retardation characterizes people who score less than 70 in IQ tests. Their intellectual functioning is inadequate; they cannot take care of themselves; and, they lack adaptive and social skills. About 5 million Americans are considered mentally retarded.
Mental retardation is classified in three ways - according to IQ score, according to degree of support needed, and according to the cause or origin of the problem. In terms of IQ score, mental retardation can be mild (with IQ score 55-70), moderate (40-54), severe (25-39), and profound (less than 25). 89% of mentally retarded people are mild, 6% are moderate, 4% are severe, and 1% are profound. The American Association on Mental Retardation established in 1992 its own classification of mental retardation according to the degree of dependency. Mentally retarded people may need intermittent support ("as needed", episodic and short-term), limited support (intense, consistent, and specific), extensive support (regular but not specific), and pervasive support (life-sustaining). Many psychologists classify mental retardation as either organic or cultural-familial. Organic mental retardation may be caused by genetic problems, hormonal imbalances, or accidents. Common examples of organic mental retardation include down syndrome, Williams syndrome, fragile X syndrome, prenatal malformation, metabolic disorders, brain damage, and brain diseases. People under this category typically score 0-50 in IQ tests. On the other hand, cultural-familial mental retardation shows no evidence of any physical damage, so the expected reason is a poorly intellectual and unstimulating environment. People under this category typically score 55-70 in IQ tests. As children, people in this category tend to fail in school, get motivated with tangible rewards (i.e., choosing candy or food over praise), and are highly sensitive to expectations.
A highly intelligent person is considered gifted if he or she scores more than 130 on IQ tests. Gifted people tend to be more mature, have fewer emotional problems, and usually have grown up in a positive family climate. They excel academically, and are often socially well-adjusted. They show signs of high ability in a specific area at a very young age (even before or at the start of formal training). They learn easily, but prefer to learn things at their own pace; and they are very passionate about their chosen area. Although most gifted people are emotionally stable, a few exceptions have suffered depression and suicidal thoughts, as with the cases of Sir Isaac Newton, Vincent Van Gogh, Anne Sexton, Socrates, Sylvia Plath, and Virginia Woolf.
Gifted children often grow up to become masters and experts in their own fields. However, they do not stand out as innovative creators and revolutionaries. One popular hypothesis is that gifted people tend to focus their energies on perfecting their skills, not on trying an alternative skill. There are also some cases in which gifted children do not grow up as successful adults. This usually happens when parents and teachers become overzealous, demanding, and unappreciative, especially during adolescence.
- What is the Nature of Intelligence?
- How Do We Measure Intelligence?
- How Does Neuroscience Investigate Intelligence?
- What are the Different Theories of Multiple Intelligence?
- What are the Extremes of Intelligence?
- What is Creativity?
- How Does Heredity and Environment Influence Intelligence?
- Is There Really a General Intelligence?
- How Creative Are You?