Each and every one of us has certain cognitive abilities , varying greatly from person to person. These allow us to be able to adapt to the environment and solve problems, establishing strategies and allowing us to carry out a great diversity of behaviours.

Evaluating the degree to which we have them allows us to make a prediction of the capacity to adapt and face situations, having developed different mechanisms to do so. One of the concepts used to calculate intelligence is the IQ, which makes it possible to evaluate and compare it with the average population.

In most people we will find an intellectual capacity that, although variable, is usually within the average. However, we can also find the case of people who either have a lower than average capacity (in the case of intellectual disability) or a much higher one, the latter being the case of the gifted.

Establishing at what point one moves from normal intelligence to high intellectual capacity may be difficult at first glance, but that is why concepts such as IQ can be of some use. What is the IQ of a gifted person? We will see it throughout this article.

Intelligence and IQ

Before going deeper into what the IQ of a gifted person is, we should first mention what we call intelligence and what exactly we mean by the concept of IQ.

With regard to intelligence or cognitive ability, although the concept is known to everyone, there is a great difficulty in providing a concrete, unitary definition that makes clear what its limits are in relation to other concepts. Furthermore there is a great deal of controversy regarding the definition of this ability or capacity , with various theories even discussing whether we can consider it a single capacity or rather a set of multiple abilities or intelligences.

Broadly speaking, we understand intelligence to be the capacity of human beings (or other types of beings) to use their cognitive resources efficiently and optimally in order to adapt and respond to environmental demands, being able, thanks to it and among other things, to capture and understand internal or external information at great speed , to generate strategies that allow the achievement of specific objectives , to solve problems or even to anticipate events and foresee difficulties.

Measuring cognitive skills

While this may be the concept at hand, measuring something so intangible is complex. One of the possible ways to do this is to evaluate the subject’s performance in different tasks that require the resolution of different types of tasks associated with intelligent behavior and from which to observe different facets of it.

In this sense, the first intelligence test was born, designed to evaluate the intellectual performance of children and carried out by Binet and Simon after having been commissioned by the French government (to evaluate the student body and establish educational measures for those minors who could not follow an ordinary education). In one of the reviews of this test, the concept of Mental Age emerged, in which mental capacity was assessed according to the average age at which most children could solve the same problems.

However, after observing that the existence of specific differences had different importance depending on the age, the psychologist William Stern would end up generating what is known today as the IQ or IQ. This quotient is a method that evaluates cognitive ability based on the division of mental age and chronological age, subsequently multiplying it by one hundred (thus eliminating decimals), and allows for a score comparable to the measure of other subjects of the same age.

It is this concept that is used today in the measurement of intelligence , although there are various controversies about it (for example, it is necessary to take into account the Flynn effect through which the measured IQ increases over the centuries not due to greater intelligence but to aspects such as greater contact with intellectual activities and technological development).

What is the IQ of a gifted person?

The IQ is a relative measure of intelligence, the meaning of which only makes sense in comparison with the average of the population. In this sense, it has been established that intelligence follows a normal distribution in the population , the average of which is considered to be a score of 100 and a standard deviation (a concept which tells us about the variability expected in the scores) of 15 points is observed.

In this sense, we would consider a normal intelligence (the one that most of the population has) to be one that reflects an IQ between 85 and 115. Below 85 and up to 70 we speak of limit intelligence , and above 115 and up to 130 of brilliance or of intellectually gifted people.

Capacities that are well below or well above the average shall be considered as such only when they exceed the two standard deviations above or below. Thus, only below an IQ of 70 would we be talking about intellectual disability (which would become increasingly severe as it went down), while above 130 we would be talking about high abilities or giftedness.

In this way, and in response to the question that gives rise to this article, when we speak of the gifted we are talking about people who, in the evaluation of their intelligence or cognitive capacity, have obtained scores whose transformation to IQ would indicate an IQ greater than 130. This is independent of sex or age , as long as we are dealing with a subject over 12 years of age and the group with which the subject is compared is the same age range.

Does being gifted mean you have a high IQ?

When we speak of a gifted person, it is easy to identify him with a person whose IQ is above 130. But, although this is not uncertain (in fact, the definition made by the WHO is this), for some authors the mere possession of this level of ability would not be enough to speak of true giftedness.

The fact is that obtaining a certain score in an intelligence test that indicates an above-average intellectual capacity is not the only requirement for being considered gifted: it is also taken into account that this intellectual capacity is shown in most domains and types of intelligence (that is, it would not be enough to be excellent in logical-mathematical skills or music, but it would also have to be excellent in the rest of the fields, in which case we would be dealing with someone who is only talented), knowing how to apply his or her capacities in an adaptive way and the existence of a high level of creativity or capacity for it.

Examples of giftedness

Giftedness is a very rare characteristic in the population, with about 2% of the population reported to have high cognitive abilities. However, many of them have made remarkable contributions and known figures from different fields, including science, economy or art. The following are four well-known examples.

1. Marilyn Monroe

Norma Jean Baker, better known as Marilyn Monroe, was considered one of the sexiest and most attractive women in the world. But despite being remembered for her beauty, her films, her relationships and her tragic death, the truth is that behind it all there was a woman with a level of intelligence superior to Albert Einstein’s. Specifically, five points above: Marilyn Monroe had an IQ of 165.

2. Stephen Hawking

The recently deceased genius of physics and astrophysics, known for his studies of the universe and especially for his studies of black holes, was a person with an extremely high IQ , with an IQ of 152.

3. Marilyn vos Savant

This name may not be as well known in our country as the other two, but this writer and columnist of American origin, who is also, among other things, the director of finance at Jarvik Heart, a lecturer (having been named one of the five most outstanding speakers in 1999) and a member of societies such as Mensa or the Council of the National Association for Gifted Children, is the person who holds the Guinness Record with the highest IQ, with an IQ of 228 .