On Children Who Have High IQs

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Terman, in 1925, began to study a large group of California schoolchildren with very high IQs, averaging about 150. The original children, numbering over 1,000, have been followed for more than 50 years. The project was often referred to by Terman as a study of ”genius,” but “people with high IQs” seems to be a more accurate description. These people seceded at a young age because of their outstandingly high IQs, for the most part went on to live productive and “successful” lives. Many of them earned advanced degrees, and many became doctors lawyers, professors, or novelists. They wrote many books and scientific papers. They earned good incomes.

They weighed more at birth than the average infant, and were taller and healthier than most children throughout childhood. They seemed as adults to be socially well-adjusted members of their communities, and to be content with the way they lived their lives.

These findings clearly disprove the notion that high-IQ children are in some way unbalanced or ”freakish.” They also indicate that if all we know about a schoolchild is that he or she has a very high IQ, it is a good bet that he or she will go on to lead the kind of “successful” life described above-though, it should be said not all of Terman’s subjects were successful. There is also no indication that these very high IQ children produces works of genuinely creative genius, There is really no proof, either that their successes were caused by their very high IQs. Almost all of Terman’s subjects had been born into professional and well-to-do families.

This kind of family background might well be responsible for their good childhood health and for much of their adult success-quite apart from their high IQs. We do not know for example, whether the lower-IQ sisters and brothers of Terman’s selected subjects were any less successful than the subjects themselves. Though Tertian would doubtless have expected such a difference, we do not in fact have the necessary data to prove or disprove one.

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