What is it about?

We asked two convenience samples about their knowledge about human intelligence. There were seven types of questions: (a) existence of intelligence, (b) the components of intelligence, (c) biology of intelligence and life outcomes, (d) education and intelligence, (e) interventions to permanently raise IQ, (f) group differences, and (g) plausible causes of group differences. The results indicated that both groups had a good grasp about the existence of intelligence and its components. However, there were a lot of misconceptions about the other sections. This is especially disturbing in regards to the sample of teachers because IQ is one of the best predictors of educational performance and teachers deal with intelligence differences every day.

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Why is it important?

Intelligence is one of the most important psychological traits for people's daily functioning. Yet, it is understudied in psychology and widely misunderstood among non-experts. This study shows that there are parts of intelligence research that people generally understand and agree with (e.g., the importance of abstract thinking) and parts that they are unaware of. It's important to know which ideas are widespread and which are not in order to address the misconceptions properly when educating non-experts.

Perspectives

This is the third of three studies I have conducted on the reception of intelligence research among non-experts. The past two (on textbook content and course catalogs) showed that psychology educators generally do not teach about intelligence. This study shows the consequences: even people who should know something about intelligence (i.e., teachers) are sometimes grossly misinformed. This study is important because of my new book, "In the Know: Debunking 35 Myths About Human Intelligence," which addresses the incorrect ideas that many people expressed in their survey responses. (Look for the book in October 2020.) Thanks to this article, I also formed a testable hypothesis about why some intelligence research is received well and other findings are not. I intend to test that hypothesis in the future.

Dr Russell T. Warne
Utah Valley University

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This page is a summary of: Beliefs About Human Intelligence in a Sample of Teachers and Nonteachers, journal for the education of the gifted, March 2020, SAGE Publications, DOI: 10.1177/0162353220912010.
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