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Intelligence, gender, and assessment method affect the accuracy of self-estimated intelligence


  • Sophie von Stumm

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, UK
    • Correspondence should be addressed to Sophie von Stumm, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths University of London, New Cross, SE14 6NW London, UK (email:

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Self-estimates of intelligence (SEI), which influence to what extent people engage in and how well they perform at a task, are subject to distortion. Here, the distortion effects of individual differences in intelligence (IQ), gender, and proximal (with reference to test performance) and distal (with reference to IQ score distributions) assessments of SEI were tested in a sample of 200 British adults. The results showed that (1) people with lower IQ misestimated their SEI to a greater extent than people with high IQ; (2) this effect was more pronounced in distal than proximal measures of SEI; (3) SEI means did not differ significantly across gender but the IQ-related level of SEI distortion did; (4) this effect was greater for distal than proximal measurement; and (5) proximal SEI were on average less distorted than distal SEI scores and also correlated more closely with IQ. Overall, the findings suggest that the distal SEI assessment method resulted in greater gender- and IQ-related distortions of SEI.