the IQ test was created in 1950s to gauge the basic mental response of mentally-retarded children so that they could be identified and get proper assistance in school. The IQ test was created to test the mentally-retarded children's skills for recognizing basic patterns from reality such as basic number progression, pattern recognition etc
Asians fare higher in average IQ scores compared to westerners because most Asians focus very much on interacting with the basic patterns of reality rather than focus on the other minor details. This is seen in the Chinese written language where the characters form the basic outline patterns of pictorial symbols. So because Asians rely mainly on the basic patterns, they are very used to recognizing and relying with these patterns that are frequently used in Mensa IQ tests.
For example, the Chinese word for mouth looks like a square box. While Asians focus mainly on the pattern of this square box, westerners on the other hand, are more focused on what is found inside the pattern of the square box and can be concerned with the teeth and tongue for example.
Most Asians focus on the basic superficial things in life such as earning money and being successful while westerners focus more on living one's dreams and being truly happy. Focusing on the pattern of the mouth and missing out on the other important finer details is obviously not a good thing.
Using mental resources on working with the complicated Chinese characters also wastes precious mental resources(short term memory for example) that could instead have been utilized on dealing with complicated thoughts and ideas.
The Writing on the Wall
How Asian Orthography Curbs Creativity
"This well-written, well-documented book convincingly argues that there is a 'creativity gap' between East Asian countries and the West."—Choice
"Students in Japan, China, and Korea are among the world's top performers on standardized math and science tests. The nations of East Asia are also leading manufacturers of consumer goods that incorporate scientific breakthroughs in telecommunications, optics, and transportation. Yet there is a startling phenomenon known throughout Asia as the "creativity problem." While East Asians are able to use science, they have not demonstrated the ability to invent radically new systems and paradigms that lead to new technologies. In fact, the legal and illegal transfer of technology from the West to the East is one of the most contentious international business issues. Yet Asians who study and work in the West and depend upon Western languages for their research are among the most creative and talented scientists, no less so than their Western counterparts.
William C. Hannas contends that this paradox emerges from the nature of East Asian writing systems, which are character-based rather than alphabetic. Character-based orthographies, according to the author, lack the abstract features of alphabetic writing that model the thought processes necessary for scientific creativity. When first learning to read, children who are immersed in a character-based culture are at a huge disadvantage because such writing systems do not cultivate the ability for abstract thought. Despite the overwhelming body of evidence that points to the cognitive side-effects, the cultural importance of character-based writing makes the adoption of an alphabet unlikely in the near future."
It is said that there are many types of intelligence. While the main type of intelligence is that of a basic pictorial pattern such as the square box to represent the mouth, the other types of intelligences are found within the square pattern inside the square box.
This different ways of thinking for Asians and Westerners could answer the question of why Asians are less technologically advanced compared to westerners. Asians are good in copying westerners' technology but because they often cannot think beyond the basic pattern of the box(cannot think outside the box), they lack the creativity gained from multiple perspective to create new things.
Getting high IQ scores for Asians is not necessarily a good thing because being skilled and focused too much on the basic patterns of reality might cause one to be dis-focused from the other important details found beyond the basic patterns. Getting a high IQ score therefore might not seem like a very good reflection of one's ability to recognize the other important things in life.
I think that being too focused on the basic patterns of life might be due to a cultural influence. Asians are culturally influenced to focus on the basic survival skills and to gain good superficial appearances to earn money and respect(the fake kind). This can cause them to be lost on the path to personal happiness that can only be found from recognizing one's own uniqueness.
In addition, Asians in the East follow strictly a social hierarchy system where interaction and the flow of alternative information can be heavily limited between people of different 'social standing', which can severely limit alternative thinking and creativity.
Conclusion: Having a higher average IQ score for Asians does not necessarily mean that they are more intelligent than Westerners on the whole. It simply means that they are more dependent on working with the basic patterns of reality. Relying on the basic patterns of reality might reflect a primitive form of thinking, and moving beyond this basic pattern intelligence to focus on the other patterns beyond the basic ones might be a sign of mental evolution.
Should westerners aspire to gain higher IQ scores for themselves?
Gaining higher IQ scores on a test originally created for mentally retarded children may not seem like a good thing, it might simply mean that one is thinking similar in line like mentally-retarded children.
There are exceptions to this case however, I feel that there are some people who do score high on the IQ test being skilled in identifying both the basic and advanced patterns of reality. They are also skilled in other types of intelligence that the IQ test failed to measure properly.
References to other similar blog posts and writings on this subject:
My Theory on Why East Asians and Ashkenazi Jews Have Highest Average IQ Scores in the World
Mensa recruits members who think like its founders(I say lots of bad things about Mensa)
The group's explanation:
In short, I claim here that Mensa members generally think like lawyers. Mensa's founders were both lawyers(one doubled as a scientist) and their limited perception created a strong bias in the test that filters people based on similar 'lawyer traits'.
<<What is Intelligence?>>
According to Cognitive Science, the fundamental component of Intelligence is pattern recognition.
"the act of taking in raw data and taking an action based on the category of the pattern"
Definition of Intelligence--
"Mainstream Science on Intelligence defines intelligence as the general mental ability to analyze, comprehend and utilize one's immediate environment."
"A very general mental capability that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings - “catching on”, “making sense” of things, or “figuring out” what to do."
<<The Mensa test is heavily biased by its founders>>
The founders of Mensa were both lawyers(one doubled as a scientist) and they created the Mensa IQ test in the 1950s based on their own definitions of intelligence and their own similar ways of thinking(thought processes).
Since they were lawyers and a scientist, their views of intelligence were influenced by their own thinking characteristics like lawyers and scientists. With reference to questions found in Mensa tests created by them, we can find many questions that require investigation, cross referencing and finding of loopholes-- these are main crucial skills of lawyers, scientists and investigators. Therefore it is logical to imply that people who score well in the IQ test would possess the most similar thinking traits as the founders, and people who score poorly would possess the least similar thinking traits as the founders.
A look through the general characteristics of Mensa members and we can find general lawyer and scientist traits. Mensa members generally look, talk and behave like lawyers and scientists.
<<There are different forms of Intelligence>>
The most basic form of intelligence is to recognize and match the patterns of a desire with the patterns of a solution that can resolve that desire-- this creates experience. Humans are intelligent because they can recognize patterns that they have experienced before.
Pattern recognition is not only present in basic traits of lawyers, scientists and investigators. The skill of pattern recognition is also found in common tasks such as-- art, fashion design, styling, cooking, writing, drama, film-making, language, music, hospitality etc. In the handling of these tasks, analysis, comprehension, reasoning, planning, abstract thinking, and handling of complexity are all required.
The questions in the Mensa test only tested specialized forms of intelligence, they do not test multiple forms of intelligence. It is unrealistic to proclaim a person's overall intelligence by testing only from *some* of the many forms of intelligence. This is not intelligent and adaptable(smart).
There were reports stating that Emotional Intelligence(EQ) is also part of Intelligence.
<<The test is ineffective to test intelligence>>
Mensa forbids people from taking the test more than twice, therefore, those who studied for the test have defeated the very purpose of the test. Studying for the test shifts intelligence-testing over to memory-testing and generates an inaccurate high IQ score. This shows people's desperation to think like Mensa's founders in order to get accepted into their club.
"It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts."
The Mensa test itself also reveals an inaccurate form of intelligence testing by using the multiple choice format. Mensa even encourages the person taking the test to guess the answers, thereby miscalculating intelligence and adding flaws to an already flawed MCQ test.
"The most serious disadvantage is the limited types of knowledge that can be assessed by multiple choice tests. Multiple choice tests are best adapted for testing well-defined or lower-order skills. Problem-solving and higher-order reasoning skills are better assessed through short-answer and essay tests. However, multiple choice tests are often chosen, not because of the type of knowledge being assessed, but because they are more affordable for testing a large number of students. This is especially true in the United States where multiple choice tests are the preferred form of high-stakes testing."
MCQs require a simple tick and do not require the user to input defined reasons for choosing any specific answer, causing a vague rather than thorough testing of the individual.
Mensa even admits members based on SAT or GMAT scores-- the tests were not designed to test intelligence.
Some Mensa MCQ tests that are reused for testing individuals are highly susceptible to cheaters who can cheat by sourcing answers for the last few most difficult MCQ questions.
<<What is a Mensa member?>>
Mensa members are not better than others in terms of multiple forms of Intelligence, rather, they were tested to be better in only *some* of the many forms of Intelligence. People who do not score well to get in Mensa might be superior to Mensa members in other forms of intelligence.
In short, Mensa members think like lawyers. Their IQ score do not necessarily deem them to be better than the rest of the populace in overall intelligence.
<<Mensa is not effective in its roles>>
"Mensa's constitution lists three purposes:
to identify and to foster human intelligence for the benefit of humanity;
to encourage research into the nature, characteristics, and uses of intelligence;
and to provide a stimulating intellectual and social environment for its members."
Mensa may have fulfilled the 3rd objective but it has done poorly in the first 2. It's elitist and ignorant mindset segregates itself from other forms of intelligence, to its own undoing. It is not a round-table society of minds. Mensa has over 110,000 members worldwide. I'm glad I am not part of it.
Update: Someone told me long ago that the IQ test was firstly developed by Alfred Binet who was a psychologist, but I was lazy to check. So, if it really matters to you, just replace the mentioned lawyers and scientists with psychologists. But it doesn't matter really, since psychologists are professionals who think like lawyers and scientists. They even have a 'Dr' to their name— they are the true doctors of the mind. So this edit can be considered an 'upgrade'.