We’ve all been led to believe our intelligence can be tested by one single figure: our IQ.

However, this isn’t necessarily true as there are many different types of intelligence and our actual smarts can’t be represented by one number – but three.

In a recent study carried out on thousands of participants, 12 different cognitive tests were used to test people’s reasoning, attention, lifestyles, planning and backgrounds.

But why can’t one IQ figure explain our intelligence? Well, there have been many arguments against this form of intelligence testing, one of the biggest being that IQ tests don’t take culture into account, whereas this new study which had participants from a wide range of cultures counteracts those arguments.

The three components that were found to explain intelligence are short-term memory, reasoning and verbal ability. Using brain scans, the psychologists carrying out the study found that each component can be clearly mapped out on certain areas of the brain, which is an interesting finding as previously intelligence wasn’t an identifiable area that could be easily measured by brain scans.

There were also some surprising findings about what doesn’t affect intelligence, such as regular brain training. It didn’t help cognitive function whatsoever, and unsurprisingly, age had a negative impact on both memory and reasoning ability.

People who spend a great deal of time playing video games scored very highly on reasoning and short-term memory, whereas those participants who suffered from anxiety performed poorly on the short-term memory tests.

Study’s lead author Dr. Adam Hampshire said:

“Smokers performed poorly on the short-term memory and the verbal factors while people who frequently suffer from anxiety performed badly on the short-term memory factor in particular.”

However, as far as IQ and intelligence testing can be an indicator of certain aspects of an individual’s strengths and weaknesses, it doesn’t define them as a person. People are multi-faceted and whilst numbers can give an insight into the areas we are better at, there are many other ways of demonstrating intelligence, and the studies into this field can only expand.

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