What is meant by genius?

In addition to high intellectual capacity, being a genius also implies originality and creativity. let’s dig into it

The term genius is often used in two different but related senses. The first, popularized in 1916 by the American psychologist Lewis M. Terman, refers to an extraordinary intellectual capacity measured by performance on a standardized test.

In this case, Terman put the intelligence quotient (IQ) of a potential genius at 140 or higher; a score obtained by about 1 in 250 people.

However, in 1942, Leta Hollingworth, an American psychologist who studied the nature and nurture of genius, proposed that a genius’s IQ should be 180 or higher. A score that, in theory, only exhibits one in two million people.

Now, many think that being a genius is not just reduced to having a high IQ. Well, although intelligence is a fundamental requirement to be considered a genius, there are other aspects that come into play, such as creativity, self-awareness and innovative thinking.

That is why the notion of genius derived from the work of Sir Francis Galton, an English psychologist and anthropologist, has become so popular, who defined the term as an extraordinarily high creative capacity, demonstrated by real achievement (provided that such achievement does not have a transitory value or is the result of an accident of birth).

In this way, in addition to a high intellectual capacity, being a genius also implies originality, creativity and the ability to work in areas not explored before. Thus, a legacy is left in the world, which otherwise would not exist.

It is for this reason that people like Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and Charles Darwin can be grouped in the same group of geniuses as Mozart, Beethoven and Picasso.

The theory of multiple intelligences and the notion of genius
Not all geniuses excel in the same intellectual areas. That is why Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences plays an important role in understanding the notion.

Gardner identified at least eight particular types of intelligence, all of which are believed to be relatively evenly distributed in the population. However, in the case of geniuses, they are likely to be born with extraordinary abilities in at least one of these areas.

For example, great writers have a marked linguistic intelligence; brilliant scientists often have extraordinary logical-mathematical intelligence; while eminent musicians tend to develop high musical intelligence.