I have never been particularly interested in people’s self-assessments of intelligence. It seemed likely they would be wrong, and so what? Years ago Furnham and Gasson (1998) had a look at what families thought about their intelligence, and found that men rated themselves at IQ 108 and women at IQ 104, their boys at 109 and their girls at 102.
Of course, this might be true. Mother chooses a good father by finding a man brighter than herself, and then their bright children grow up even brighter because of the Flynn Effect, with boys brighter than girls, because any fool knows men are cleverer. Never sneer at folk wisdom.
Or, all parties could be deluded. Modest Mum downplays her abilities to make her fool of a husband feel important, and dotes on her average children, seeing abilities no one else can detect, and favouring the male of species, as well she should, so the next generation of women have a bright man to look up to, or a fool who thinks he is bright.
Into this mush of self-perceptions steps Sophie von Stumm, who has the temerity to actually test people’s intelligence before asking them how well they did on the test, and then where they put themselves on the intelligence bell curve.
“Intelligence, gender, and assessment method affect the accuracy of self-estimated intelligence”. Sophie von Stumm, British Journal of Psychology (2014) 105, 243-253. (This arrived in paper form, so you will have to get the link yourself).
200 is a good number of subjects for a psychology paper, but a little low for intelligence estimations. However, the human subjects seem to be the wild sort, not the usual laboratory rats, so that is a welcome change. The tests used are reasonable but only the Matrices test is well known, and she used a 12 item short form, and Lettersets and Nonsense Syllogisms are less easily compared with other psychometric findings. Perhaps it is not important: a general factor derived from the three tests accounted for 60% of the variance. However, the loadings are highest for Raven’s at .93, Lettersets lower at .78 and Syllogisms only .50 which is not very good. Wechsler Coding would have only taken 2 minutes and loaded strongly on g!
The correlations between the actual IQ measure and the self rating are pretty pathetic at very roughly .20 which suggests general inability to self-assess intellectual ability. Figure 2 shows what the problem is: Dull people over-rate their intelligence. This is interesting, and begins to explain a few things. Dunning Kruger were on to this, but it is nice to see it confirmed for intelligence self-estimation. Brighter people somewhat under-estimate their intelligence, but to a much lesser extent.
This interesting paper was submitted in January 2013, revised in March 2013 and achieved publication in May 2014. This is the academic cost of publishing in a good journal: very delayed scholarly feedback. Journals with faster and more complete review processes should, with any luck, rise to the top. Reviewing papers must become an accepted fast-track to promotion in academia.
It may just be me, but the British Journal of Psychology rarely excites me. This paper is a good exception. The journal is worthy, no doubt, but it usually lacks human interest. Too much to expect from Psychology, perhaps.