Do the observed sex differences in self-estimated intelligence among younger adults extend to older adults as well? And what are some psychological correlates of self-estimated intelligence among older adults? These are the research questions pursued by a new paper published in Brain and Behavior.
“I am interested in neuropsychological assessment in older people. For many years I was wondering if there is a correlation between actual cognitive performance/intellectual abilities and self-estimated performance in cognitive tasks – including intelligence tests – not only in older adults, but also in young adults,” said Dr. Vaitsa Giannouli, a scientific collaborator at the European University Cyprus.
“Thus, inspired by the research done by Professor Furnham, I wanted to examine for the first time these variables along with some neglected ones, including self-estimated emotional intelligence, physical attractiveness, health, general optimism, religiousness, and working memory, in Greek younger and older adults.”
A total of 311 Greek younger and older adults (128 men) participated in this research. The mean age of younger adults was 34.8, while the mean age of older adults was 77.9. Individuals with a history of various psychiatric and medical issues that could affect neuropsychological performance, as well as non-native speakers of Greek, were excluded from participation.
Participants provided an estimate of their overall intelligence on a scale of 0 to 100, as well as ratings of their physical health and physical attractiveness on a 9-point scale ranging from 1 (not at all) to 9 (very). They also indicated how optimistic and religious they were. Participants completed a working memory cognitive test, which is a strong predictor of intelligence, and a measure of creativity. As well, they responded to a questionnaire assessing for positive and negative affect, which have previously been excluded as a variable that could potentially influence self-estimated (emotional) intelligence.
“Young males in Greece rate their intelligence quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) higher than young females. This finding was not confirmed for older adults, for which surprisingly the reverse pattern was found,” Giannouli told PsyPost. “This is a novel finding; so far researchers haven’t observed gender differences in self-estimated intelligence for older adults.
Additionally, ratings of physical attractiveness, health, and religiousness were positively associated with participants’ self-estimated IQ and EQ. However, there were no links between objective measures of working memory and self-estimated IQ, suggesting this variable of interest is often overestimated.
“I do hope that this study prompts other researchers to examine and compare different age groups in their future studies and to include more psychological variables in their research designs.”
What are some future research questions worth pursuing? Giannouli wonders, “Are these findings in Greece culture-specific, or is there a more general cross-cultural phenomenon that researchers previously missed by focusing only on samples of young adults?
The study, “Are sex differences in self-estimated intelligence an elusive phenomenon? Exploring the role of working memory, creativity, and other psychological correlates in young and older adults”, was authored by Vaitsa Giannouli.