Study: Group discussion lowers IQ

Many people can’t express their intelligence in group discussions, concludes a Virginia Tech study.

If we think others in a group are smarter, we may become dumber, temporarily losing both our problem-solving ability and what the researchers call our “expression of IQ.”

Women and people with higher IQs are the most likely to clam up, according to the report.

I wonder if this holds true for students in middle and high school, when kids are conscious of their status within a group.

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Comments

  1. Research has found that having students write informally prior to oral discussion results in more students participating in the discussion. One suggested explanation is that writing lets students see that they actually know something about a topic.

    Improvement in class discussion is just one of the reasons I think all teachers ought to have informal writing in their toolkits. My latest ebook Shape Learning, Reshape Teaching deals with uses of informal writing. Here’s a link to a flip book of the table of contents and other front matter: http://snack.to/5anzSn0

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    In many “group discussion” situations, there is insufficient time to actually make your point, so the entire event becomes an exercise in everyone having their say, for the mere purpose of having their say (as opposed to getting anything substantive done).

    In other situations, there is insufficient interest (rather than time).

    I know that, for my part, I just shut up in situations like that and wait for it to mercifully end. You’d probably think I was a moron to watch it all.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Of course, maybe you think I’m a moron anyway.

  4. One suggested explanation is that writing lets students see that they actually know something about a topic.

    Another explanation, and the simplest one I believe, is that doing some informal writing allows a student to think about his views in advance of the discussion. It gets the student (or the adult) away from simply reacting to what is said to having an intellectual base to use in analyzing it. Personally, I never go into a meeting or discussion without notes on the agenda item at hand.

    Women and people with higher IQs are the most likely to clam up, according to the report.

    There are many occasions where people with high IQs know too much. Where a lower-IQ person might have a single, strong reaction to a statement, a higher-IQ person will often want to play with it and take a moment to really make sense of it. Perversely, the intellectually superior activity (analysis) comes across as being “dumb” because it takes longer than the gut reaction.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Quincy. I agree that the first and loudest reaction is likely wrong. It is also likely to be closely identified with the person’s person and thus hard to deal with objectively.
    I would change “clam up” to “decide it’s useless”.

  6. They needed to do a research study to come to this conclusion? Anybody who has been in a co-ed group discussion knows that the majority of the time, the most narcissistic male in the bunch will hog the spotlight while the women can’t get a word in edgewise…

  7. My son has a very high IQ and does not like group discussions at all. His reason…. “I’m not about to argue with idiots”. Smart people tend to know enough to keep their mouths shut.