There’s a lot of speculation when it comes to the question, “Does reading increase your IQ”? Lots of people have tried to answer this question, but most of them have failed. The people who have sought the answer to this question previously provided wrong answers mostly, but it wasn’t their fault solely.
Human psychology is still a mysterious thing to us. We don’t know even a fraction of what’s happening in our consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness. However, we know more than we used to know, and the newly acquired knowledge in this field helps us to understand that the previous answers were wrong, and we get to look at it from a different perspective. Confused? You won’t be once you go through this entire article!
Before we get into “Does reading increase your IQ?”, we must know what IQ is. One thing’s for sure; IQ is very hard to define and pinpoint. Essentially, we consider IQ as the most basic and only metric to understand human intelligence. If a person has a higher IQ, then the chances are high that that person will have a higher aptitude, and vice versa.
Why are we talking about chances? Because it’s sometimes seen that the person with a lower IQ performs better than someone with a higher IQ in real life, but let’s save that for another discussion.
The concept of IQ was developed around the early 20th century, and German scientist William Stern was the person who coined it. IQ stands for intelligence quotient. He developed a test where the intelligence of a person could be measured by taking in his age as a factor. In this test, intelligence is defined to be the ability to analyze and solve a problem.
However, it was found that IQ alone wasn’t the factor that drove human beings to do great things. The social, cultural, and historical background of an individual were also driving factors. This is why we can’t get an accurate prediction by taking only the IQ into account, but we can certainly understand how two or more individuals would perform if they were raised in the same way.
Now that you have a clear concept about IQ, we need to go back to our main question, “Does reading increase your IQ?”
Short answer, both yes and no, but why is that? Continue down this article to understand how reading can affect your IQ.
Effect of Reading on Your Brain:
There was a time when we didn’t know anything about the effects of reading on our brain, and we used to think that reading can’t improve an individual’s aptitude. In fact, if you ask someone from a generation before or two, they’ll probably answer that a person who’s talented since his birth will perform better than someone who works hard. However, the opposite is right.
Reading can affect us in various ways. And in this section, we’ll talk about that.
Reading improves different sections of intelligence, and in these subsections, we’ll go through those. The first thing we want to talk about is crystallized intelligence. Now, what is crystallized intelligence?
It’s one of the most basic forms of intelligence. Crystallized intelligence refers to the factual things that you know and remember. For example, if you know what the capital of Honduras is, then that’s a fact stored in your memory, and it will count as crystallized intelligence.
If you look at society, you’ll see that there are people who seem to memorize entire encyclopedias. Usually, we call them “Book worms.” In this language, they have a high crystallized language.
Now, crystallized language aptitude, of course, differs from person to person. There are a lot of people who can memorize things by reading them only once, and there are also those who need to go through these a few times to memorize them.
However, if someone grows a habit out of reading and memorizing things, that person will be able to memorize things in an easier manner.
Emotional intelligence simply refers to our empathy. Now, how does reading affect our empathy? If you had been told this even a decade ago, maybe you would’ve laughed this away. However, those who read fiction on a daily basis know that this is possible. In fact, if you would’ve asked one of the fiction readers from hundreds of years ago, even they would’ve said that it’s correct.
You see, the fiction is written with real human emotions, and they do depict real human emotions. If you read enough fiction, you’ll have a deeper understanding of human emotions, and then you’ll be able to understand how someone else is feeling.
Last but not least, we have fluid intelligence. Fluid intelligence is actually the capability of solving problems, finding patterns, and understanding the core meaning of the crystallized intelligence stored in one’s memory.
For example, a person who memorizes all the laws of gravitation has crystallized intelligence. However, if that person fails to understand the true meaning and application of the gravitational laws, then he has poor fluid intelligence.
Although it might not relate directly to the IQ, it surely helps by making a person smarter and more adaptive. When you read fiction, not only the language section of your brain gets activated, but the movement section gets activated as well.
Why does this happen? Because when you read fiction, you step into the shoes of the characters, and you move around and act in your imaginations.
Verdict: Does Reading Increase Your IQ?
At this point, I’m sure we all can agree on the fact that reading increases our intelligence in many ways, but it may or may not increase the Intelligence quotient. Most IQ tests are dependent mostly on our fluid intelligence, and thus it depends on how much we can improve that.