I suppose the common assumption is that our intelligence is completely independent of the intelligence of our neighbor. A smart neighbor doesn’t make us smarter. A dull neighbor doesn’t make us duller. And so far as I know, the common assumption might be largely correct (for once).
That’s to say, it seems scientists have found no compelling evidence to support the notion that hanging out with smart people makes us smarter, or that hanging out with dull people makes us duller. On the contrary, the evidence suggests — just as is commonly assumed — that our own intelligence is completely independent of the intelligence of our neighbor.
Naturally, in order to reach the audacious conclusion that “scientists have found no compelling evidence to support the notion…”, I Googled around for a while, using my favorite and habitual search terms, and could find no such scientific evidence associated with, “Rubber Chicken Porn”, “Crisco Nights”, and “Wild Things of the Blogosphere”. Only much later did it occur to me that my favorite search terms might be inadequate this time around and that I should instead Google, “Marriage IQ Convergence”; but that’s when I struck pay dirt.
It seems I’m not the only one who has ever wondered whether intelligence is affected by who we hang out with. A whole bunch of scientists have wondered the same thing too. And their way of approaching the problem has been to ask whether the IQs of spouses converge over time. After all, who but your spouse do you spend the most time with (besides your rubber chicken)? So, if anyone is going to change how smart or dull you are (besides the chicken) it’s your spouse, right?
According to my Google search, the scientists have found the IQs of married people do not converge over the course of their marriage. A smart person stays just as smart. A dull person stays just as dull. Regardless of the IQ of the person they are married to. Thus, there seems to be no compelling evidence for the notion our IQs are affected by who we hang out with. And that seems to partly answer my question.
Only partly, though. I’m one of those rubber chicken wielding scoundrels you sometimes read about in the police and courts section of the tabloids who believes there are kinds of human intelligence which are not measured by IQ. That is, I subscribe to Howard Gardner’s notion there are at least eight distinct kinds of human intelligence and that IQ tests only measure a few of those.
So, if you have any ideas about this, please speak up. I’d love to know if there is any way intelligence — as measured by IQ or some other means — is affected by who we hang out with. It looks like there might not be, but who knows?