High IQ does not guarantee success

I AGREE with Mr George Lim Heng Chye ("Risky to gauge potential based purely on IQ"; last Friday) that there are many indicators of success other than IQ.

In fact, the knowledge of one's IQ could have a detrimental effect on one's growth if one puts too much stock in it.

Psychological research from Stanford University has shown that children who perceive intelligence as something innate and fixed perform poorly as compared to their counterparts who perceive intelligence as something that can change with hard work and experience.

Children who were praised for their intelligence instead of their effort were more likely to shun difficult tasks, for fear of looking stupid.

On the other hand, those who were praised for their effort were more likely to take on challenging tasks so that they could learn from their mistakes.

Children who know that they have higher than average IQ levels may become complacent and think that they need not put in much effort to learn new skills.

These "gifted" children may perform splendidly early in life but may falter when tasks become more challenging and when relying purely on intelligence is not sufficient.

Conversely, children who have been tested and appear to have middling IQ levels may carry the misconception that their success in life is limited by their genes.

There have been many cases of late bloomers who struggled during their early years but later rose to success because of other attributes, such as their tenacity and resilience.

Decades of research have shown that those with a growth mindset are more successful in school, work and relationships than those who hold on to a fixed mindset.

In this day and age, the ability to adapt and learn are far better indicators of success than IQ.

Children are already subjected to rigorous standardised tests in schools. Instead of sending them to yet another test, why not inculcate in them the importance of hard work, resilience and integrity?

After all, when faced with a challenging problem, it is those with experience and grit who will fare better than those who have superior intelligence but no motivation.

Melissa Tan Siew Ting (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2015, with the headline 'High IQ does not guarantee success'. Print Edition | Subscribe