Mind your cues in IQ, EQ, AQ, CQ and SQ | Sunday Observer

Mind your cues in IQ, EQ, AQ, CQ and SQ

The concept of quantifying intelligence dates back to the late 19th to early 20th century when the first test to measure one’s intelligence was developed by the French psychologist Alfred Binet in 1905. The idea was to quantify the level of intelligence of an individual by evaluating one’s mathematical abilities, word comprehension and logical reasoning capabilities. German psychologist William Stern, in 1912, came up with the idea of calculating the ratio, the quotient between one’s mental age (measured by a test) and chronological age multiplied by hundred to present it as a score to measure one’s level of intelligence. This score is known as the ‘Intelligence Quotient’ (IQ) of the individual, which is being used as a measure of one’s mental potential and academic abilities. At present, there are three globally recognised standard IQ tests, namely, Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale, Wechsler Intelligence Scale and Woodcock-Johnson Test of Cognitive Abilities, used in evaluating one’s mental age. The statistical distribution of IQ scores is known to be a normal distribution with a mean score of 100 and a standard deviation of 15 making the scores of 70 and 130 to be two standard deviations away from the mean. Therefore, 70 and 130 are considered as benchmarks for extraordinary IQ scores at lower and higher ends respectively. Adults who score less than 70 on a certified IQ test usually are labelled as ‘developmentally impaired or delayed’ while the ones who score more than 130 are recognised as ‘developmentally advanced or gifted’. World famous scientists, Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking were known to have had an IQ of 160 while Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, had claimed that he once scored 125 at an IQ test.


A society named ‘Mensa’, recognising those with IQ belonging to the top 2% of the population, was formed in England in 1946. It welcomes people from every walk of life with the objective of enjoying the camaraderie among high IQ people from all over the world while participating in a wide range of social and cultural activities. Mensa has three main purposes stated: a) to identify and foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity, b) to encourage research in the nature, characteristics and uses of intelligence, c) to promote stimulating intellectual and social opportunities for its members. The word ‘Mensa’ means ‘table’ in Latin. The society ‘Mensa’ is also similar to a round table gathering of high IQ people where age, race, colour, creed, national origin, religion, educational or social background have no relevance. Even though IQ has been deeply ingrained within our academic assessment and hiring and promotion systems for a long time the importance given to it has gradually been diminishing over the period of the past three to four decades.

Psycho-Analytical research in different parts of the world started to show that there is more to the success of a human being than his IQ where managing one’s emotions seemed to be more important than his intellect. It became clear that a genius who can’t relate well to others can’t make the most of his intelligence. Therefore, behavioural scientists started analysing the impact of one’s emotions on his decision making process as well as his abilities of dealing with others’ emotions giving birth to the concept of ‘Emotional Intelligence’ (EI) or ‘Emotional Quotient’ (EQ).

Emotional Intelligence

Daniel Goleman, a clinical psychologist, championed the concept with his 1995 book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ where he describes EQ as the ability to understand one’s own and others’ emotions and to use emotional information to guide thinking, behaviour patterns and interpersonal relationships. Unlike IQ, which is assumed to be something one is born with, EQ is something one can acquire by using one’s IQ efficiently through the process of living. Some researchers even claimed that EQ was twice more important in contributing to excellence than IQ. What is even more interesting perhaps for Sri Lankans is the fact that the main motivating factor for Prof. Goleman to write his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’ in 1995, is his long term association with Dalai Lama and his understanding of eastern philosophies. Goleman’s first book was about his experience of living in India and travelling through India and Sri Lanka. He is also the author of the book ‘A Force For Good: Dalai Lama’s vision for our world’ where he shares examples of companies that are highly successful while following compassionate, ethical and environment friendly practices with tough accountability and transparency guidelines. It is also interesting to note here that Prof. John Kotter, Goleman’s contemporary at Harvard Business School, has also said that “it is not the question of strategy that gets us into trouble it is the question of emotions: most businesses are dying not because they lack strategy but they lack good business relationships.”

IQ may take one through the formal education pipeline as we have come to know it today, successfully, but applying that knowledge in the real world successfully is not that easy without a high EQ. Further studies in the fields of Clinical Psychology and Human Behavioural Patterns have even formulated several other characteristics such as Adversity Quotient (AQ), Curiosity Quotient (CQ) and Spiritual Quotient (SQ) through which we can observe, monitor and measure different types of characteristics of our behaviour in society.

AQ will be a measure of how well one withstands adversity and his ability to triumph over it while CQ would provide a measure of the intensity of one’s curiosity for acquiring new knowledge. Curiosity and open-mindedness are considered as important leadership traits where an inquisitive foundation that encourages innovation is a stronger structure to stand on. Building a foundation of trust and happiness is also becoming an important factor for a successful establishment as well as for a person. SQ, Spiritual Quotient, can be designed as a measure of those characteristics where people with high SQ in any organisation would be the ones to put the others’ interests and the organisation’s well-being, ahead of their own personal interests.

The writer has served in the higher education sector as an academic for over twenty years in the USA and thirteen years in Sri Lanka and can be contacted at [email protected]