The 2-Question IQ Test

This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online

 Most IQ tests involve answering a whole load of very difficult questions. But here’s one with just two. Best of all, they’re dead simple:


  1. Does living in a crowded area get you down?

(a) a lot; (b) a bit; (c) not at all


  1. Would you prefer to socialize with friends every day, as opposed to just once or twice a week?

(a) hell, yeah!; (b) maybe a bit; (c) no


If you said (b) or (c) for the first question and (c) for the second, then you are showing the response pattern typical of highly intelligent people. In general, living in an area with high population density is associated with lower levels of life satisfaction (as measured by questionnaire). However, the study on which this quiz is based found that high population density had a larger negative effect for a lower IQ group (an average of 81, as measured by a standard pencil-and-paper IQ test) than a higher IQ group (an average of 116). (Standard IQ tests are designed such that the average for the population as a whole is 100). What is more, hanging out with friends every day, as opposed to just a couple of times a week, is associated with greater life satisfaction amongst the lower IQ group, but lower satisfaction amongst the brainboxes. Interestingly, these geniuses don’t seem to be smart enough to recognize what makes them happy. The study found that intelligent people tended to socialize more often than less intelligent people, even though they generally derive less pleasure – and more irritation – from doing so.

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