Is Intelligence a Genetic Trait? (2023)

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Wordcount: 1876 wordsPublished: 8th Feb 2020

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Is Genius Genetic?

The world is changing, and there is a lot of innovation and creativity going on. The revolution of the world has been made possible by outstanding works of a few people. An individual with an outstanding performance in a particular field is known as a genius. For so long, psychologists have believed that geniuses are people with high intelligence, or persons whose intelligence quotient is high; that is in the case of students, a student who can score highly in class. The belief has been challenged, and a new view of being a genius has been adopted. A genius person is now considered as a person of high achievement in the sciences, social, economic and political fields; a person whose work in a particular field can stand, and impact others for ages. Geniuses impact the world, but people seem not to agree on how geniuses are created, whether it is inherited or not.

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Psychologists traditionally have believed that geniuses are people with high intelligence and mental ability, but how is intelligence in humans beings determined? Many have attempted to objectively quantify how intelligent a person is, but its proven to be quite the difficult task. “The word intelligence as an intraspecies concept has proved to be either undefinable or arbitrarily defined without a scientifically acceptable degree of consensus” (Jensen 45). People may be regarded as a genius for musical ability such as JS Bach, or for physical ability such as Michael Jordan. Therefore — artists, musicians, athletes and scientists may all be considered geniuses in their respected fields.

People possess varied traits around the world. Some of the traits include height, color, and cognitive ability among others (Hsu, 2014). Children acquire traits from their biological parents, for example, tall parents are expected to give birth to tall kids. All traits are a natural characteristic of a person. Being a genius is also an intrinsic property of a person, and thus is heritable. Scientists have come to agree to the expression that ‘geniuses are born and not made’. Intelligence has been scientifically associated with genetic transmissions. Scientists have worked on a numbers of researcher to determine the inheritability of intelligence.

The most famous research group is the Social Science Genome Association Consortium, which is a collaboration of different universities research groups (Hsu, 2014). According to Hsu, the research group has succeeded in identifying alleles as the gene responsible for intelligent quotient in human beings. More than 10,000 alleles have been identified, and this can explain why there is a slight variation in people’s intelligence quotient. Since there is a gene for intelligence, it can be concluded that genius is genetic.

According to Hsu, modifying genius is speculative. A number of researchers have thought that any attempts to advance machines and genomic science learning can open up new paths with the possibility of creating individuals that could have the greatest minds in the world by possessing the mightiest cognitive abilities. However, these opinions have been turned down by other researchers who have varying thoughts that genetically, intelligence is very complicated to be modified (Janssens, 2015). This is because of the interactions between genes and the environment that become too complex to be tweaked so that any alteration can be made. Consequently, employing genetic technology to edit intelligence can be incapable of developing lots of alterations that are probably needed in creating a genius human being artificially.

Plomin in his part believes genius is genetic. Intelligence in human beings is determined by a general intelligence factor, which is strongly inheritable as compared to other traits. Scientifically, it has been studied that genes play a significant role in bringing out a difference that is very substantial in determining intelligence among individuals. For instance, Plomin (2016) used the twin adoption experiment to prove the assumption that genius is genetic. In the experiment, one twin is adopted by people living far off from the parents, while the other is left to stay with the parents. After some time of staying apart, the intelligence of the two children was tested. The test showed that the intelligence of the two children was different by 50%. The experiment proved that there was a relationship between the intelligence of the two children. Therefore, it should be noted that during their birth, even if children are taken far from their biological parents, later in their lives are the same as their parents and as the children that are brought up by their biological parents. Additionally, adopted children and their adoptive parents are typically dissimilar to one another in terms of intellect. However, it should be taken into account that an individual’s intelligence can be thrown off-balance by factors such as illness during childhood. The research can be used to conclude that no matter the place of upbringing, people’s intelligence has a relationship with their kin’s intelligence. The relationship is a strong indicator that genius is hereditary.

The twin experiment gives a suggestion that intelligence apart from being inherited, can be acquired. Albert Einstein is one of the most widely regarded geniuses who ever lived on earth; he surprised the physics world by his numerous theories and equations in relativity. Balter states that people have tried to understand the origin of his intelligence (2012). Some scientists have studied both the brain, and photographs of Einstein’s brain to understand what made him stand out. Lots of questions were asked in an effort to explain his intelligence. One of the questions that were asked is whether Einstein had commenced off with a brain that was special hence predisposing him to be a genius in physics, or whether the complex physics he participated in had triggered certain brain components to enlarge. The studies have not yielded much to researchers, and therefore, the researchers have resorted to other explanations.

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(Video) Is intelligence inherited? Genetics and Intelligence

Batler notes in a research conducted by Falk that nature and nurturing contributed much to Einstein’s intelligence (2012). It should be taken into consideration that intellectual genetic factors when they are coordinated with developmental factors of upbringing and nurture additionally contribute to one becoming a genius. Galaburda explained that Einstein being a genius may have resulted from a combination of the environment he resided in as well as his special brain. Einstein’s parents were caring and encouraged Einstein to be independent not only in science but other fields such as music. A lot of motivation, in creating and discovering things emerges from certain backgrounds of upbringing. Therefore, the nurturing character of the parents made Einstein a genius, and thus, genius is not only genetic.

The environment is another factor that can shape a genius. Korte in his article uses the example of Leonardo da Vinci to explain how the environment can shape one to be intelligent (2015). In Leonardo’s early life, he associated with great painters who guided him, until he became a master in the painting art. In the article, Ness noted that genius is achievable through a process of thinking that is systematic and not mystical. He produced marvelous works of art that are still admirable to date. Leonardo’s genius was especially shown during wars, where he crafted war equipment which was beyond imagination even to the enemies. Leonardo was primarily creative because he worked with experienced and creative individuals.

Moreover, Ness observed that geniuses, at the expense of their environment, use analogy and observation to disrupt as well as recognize frames (cognitive patterns), which are the expectations and assumptions that are employed to interpret information and consequently create meaning from it. Even children can be shaped by experienced and talented adults to be geniuses (Armstrong 1998). Armstrong (1998) argued that every child is a genius in the fact that children can grandmasters of their talents which are unique and varied. The term genius according to him symbolized the potential of an individual; what lies tied inside a child at the development stages of the child. In a given environment, educators should help students in developing their talents consequently unleashing their potential. Through the help accorded, then literary the children find their inner genius. Therefore, the environment is important in shaping an individual to be a genius.

Being a genius is abroad term used to describe people with peculiar achievements in life. Genius people find solutions to critical situations when required through their intelligence. Human beings have several traits, and one of them is intelligence. Since human traits are genetically transferred from generation to generation, it can be concluded that intelligence, and hence genius is genetically transferred. Apart from genetics, environment and nurturing also plays a role in making an individual genius. Genetics contributes about 50% of an individual’s intelligence, implying that the remaining 50% is contributed by the environment and nurture. The little statistics in this paper can be used by educators and parents to know that they can make geniuses from homes or schools. Geniuses are not necessarily born but can also be made.

Works Cited

(Video) Jordan Peterson Explains how IQ is Genetic

  • Armstrong, Thomas. Awakening Genius in the Classroom. 1998. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
  • Balter, Michael. Why Einstein Was a Genius. Science, 2012. Retrieved from: (accessed November 11, 2018)
  • Hsu, Stephen. Super-Intelligent Humans Are Coming. Nautilus, 2014. Retrieved from: (accessed November 11, 2018)
  • Janssens, JW, A. Cecile. Gene Editing Won’t Work on Complex Traits Like Intelligence. 2015. Retrieved from: (accessed December 6, 2018).
  • Jensen, Arthur Robert.The “g” Factor: the Science of Mental Ability. Praeger, 2012.
  • Korte, Andrea. “Researchers Explore the Nature and Nurture behind Creative Geniuses.” 2015. Retrieved from: (accessed November 11, 2018)
  • Plomin, Robert. “Is intelligence hereditary?” Scientific American, 2016. Retrieved from: (accessed November 11, 2018).

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(Video) Should You Blame Genes For Your Grades?


Is intelligence linked to genetics? ›

Researchers have previously shown that a person's IQ is highly influenced by genetic factors, and have even identified certain genes that play a role. They've also shown that performance in school has genetic factors. But it's been unclear whether the same genes that influence IQ also influence grades and test scores.

How much of IQ is genetic? ›

Early twin studies of adult individuals have found a heritability of IQ between 57% and 73%, with some recent studies showing heritability for IQ as high as 80%. IQ goes from being weakly correlated with genetics for children, to being strongly correlated with genetics for late teens and adults.

Is intelligence the most heritable trait? ›

Intelligence is highly heritable and predicts important educational, occupational and health outcomes better than any other trait. Recent genome-wide association studies have successfully identified inherited genome sequence differences that account for 20% of the 50% heritability of intelligence.

What type of intelligence is genetic? ›

General intelligence definitely runs in the family. Twin studies (on both identical twins and fraternal twins) have found a heritability of IQ between 57% and 73%, and in some cases, even higher. Interestingly, genetic studies have revealed that a child's IQ score is less affected by intelligence genes than an adult's.

Are geniuses born or made? ›

Summary. Geniuses are both born and made. While genetics can explain up to 75% of variations in IQ levels, factors like socioeconomic status and home environment decide whether a person achieves their full genetic IQ potential.

What makes humans intelligent? ›

Human intelligence is a mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one's environment.

Can IQ be increased? ›

Although science is on the fence about whether you can raise your IQ or not, research does seem to suggest that it's possible to raise your intelligence through certain brain-training activities. Training your memory, executive control, and visuospatial reasoning can help to boost your intelligence levels.

Is IQ set at birth? ›

IQ tends to remain relatively stable over the lifespan. The key word there is relative. Keep in mind that IQ researchers are interested in explaining differences. Developmentally speaking, an individual's intelligence is not fixed at birth.

Where does high intelligence come from? ›

We found that high intelligence is familial, heritable, and caused by the same genetic and environmental factors responsible for the normal distribution of intelligence.

Are people born smart? ›

Current neuroscience research suggests that most newborn infants are born with the potential to achieve in many cognitive areas. There will be some genetic predispositions, but the child's brain is extraordinarily malleable and “teachable”.

What makes a child intelligent? ›

Research from the National Institute of Health shows that 50 percent of intelligence comes from genetics, while the other 50 percent comes from other factors, including the child's environment. For the 50 percent that parents can control, they play a key role in supporting the cognitive development of their child.

Is talent genetic or learned? ›

Both. Some people are born with greater potential, but without hard work and practising their talent will come to nothing. Music is a good example, with some evidence of genetic differences. For example, a study of 500 twins found that 80 per cent of tone deafness is inherited.

What gene makes you a genius? ›

Importantly, the scientists also identified plexins as a gene family strongly associated with high IQ. This gene family consists of membrane-bound receptors which regulate several neuronal processes; mutations in these are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders.

What causes intelligence in the brain? ›

The cerebello-parietal component and the frontal component were significantly associated with intelligence. The parietal and frontal regions were each distinctively associated with intelligence by maintaining structural networks with the cerebellum and the temporal region, respectively.

How rare is being a genius? ›

The first genius IQ score was around 140. That's about one in every 250 people. But one leading researcher in the 1940s suggested that a genius should have an IQ over 180. That's about one in every 2 million people.

Are first born more intelligent? ›

Research published in the Journal of Human Resources found that firstborn children outperform their younger siblings on cognitive tests starting from infancy — they are better set up for academic and intellectual success thanks to the type of parenting they experience.

Can people with high IQ learn faster? ›

Supposedly, people of higher levels of intelligence do learn faster than people of lower levels of it. But this is an awfully coarse observation, and different people can learn at drastically different speeds in different environments.

What are the 3 types of intelligence? ›

Figure 7.12 Sternberg's theory identifies three types of intelligence: practical, creative, and analytical.

Is intelligence fixed or Changeable? ›

In other words, intelligence cannot be fixed because it is the tests that define it, not some intrinsic quality of the brain. And since tests are changing all the time, this means that the definition of intelligence also changes. Updated definitions are normal in science.

What is the most heritable personality trait? ›

They estimated the heritability of conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and extraversion to be 44%, 41%, 41%, 61%, and 53%, respectively.

What is a highly heritable trait? ›

Heritability measures how important genetics is to a trait. A high heritability, close to 1, indicates that genetics explain a lot of the variation in a trait between different people; a low heritability, near zero, indicates that most of the variation is not genetic.

What traits are most hereditary? ›

Some characteristics that are passed down from parent to child in humans include:
  • eye color.
  • hair color and texture.
  • skin tone.
  • blood group (A, B, AB, O)
  • freckles.
  • color blindness.
  • dominant hand.
  • dimples.

Which of the big five traits is the most heritable? ›

Factors Influencing Personality Traits

The findings suggested that the heritability of each personality trait was 53% for extraversion, 41% for agreeableness, 44% for conscientiousness, 41% for neuroticism, and 61% for openness.


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