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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Horsepower matters; psychometrics works

Can psychometrics separate the top .1 percent from the top 1 percent in ability? Yes: SAT-M quartile within top 1 percent predicts future scientific success, even when the testing is done at age 13. The top quartile clearly outperforms the lower quartiles. These results strongly refute the "IQ above 120 doesn't matter" claim, at least in fields like science and engineering; everyone in this sample is above 120 and the top quartile are at the 1 in 10,000 level. The data comes from the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a planned 50-year longitudinal study of intellectual talent. For more, see papers here. (Thanks to Bob Williams for reminding me about this data.)

Ability Differences Among People Who Have Commensurate Degrees Matter for Scientific Creativity

Gregory Park, David Lubinski, and Camilla P. Benbow

Vanderbilt University

ABSTRACT—A sample of 1,586 intellectually talented adolescents (top 1%) were assessed on the math portion of the SAT by age 13 and tracked for more than 25 years. Patents and scientific publications were used as criteria for scientific and technological accomplishment. Participants were categorized according to whether their terminal degree was a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree, and within these degree groupings, the proportion of participants with at least one patent or scientific publication in adulthood increased as a function of this early SAT assessment. Information about individual differences in cognitive ability (even when measured in early adolescence) can predict differential creative potential in science and technology within populations that have advanced educational degrees.

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