Rating American presidents' IQ's

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President Bush is definitely intelligent, but his IQ is "below average" when compared to that of his 41 predecessors, according to a new study by Dean Keith Simonton, a professor of psychology at the University of California at Davis.

Using statistical methods to translate several personality traits associated with intelligence, Mr. Simonton has compiled IQ estimates for every American president. General acuity is a crucial measure of a leader's performance, he says, but given that most presidents died before the advent of intelligence tests, their IQ's have remained a mystery.

Mr. Simonton calculates that President Bush's IQ probably ranges between 111.1 and 138.5, with an average near 125. That would place Mr. Bush "in the upper range of college graduates in raw intellect," he writes. Moreover, he says that these findings endorse what has been claimed on the basis of the president's SAT scores and Harvard MBA: "namely, that his IQ most likely exceeds 115. ... He is certainly smart enough to be president of the United States."

That is the good news for the president. The bad news is that his estimated IQ is lower than that of nearly every other president who preceded him. In fact, the only president during the 20th century to score lower than President Bush was Warren G. Harding. Mr. Harding, who graduated from Ohio Central College, had an estimated IQ range between 107.8 and 139.9, with an average just below 124.

President Grover Cleveland, whose nonconsecutive terms made him the nation's 22nd and 24th chief executive, was rated slightly higher than Mr. Bush, with an estimated IQ range of 116.9 to 144.

John Quincy Adams, a graduate of Harvard College, was the president with the highest estimated IQ. He had a score that ranged between 165 and 175. Other high scores came from Presidents Thomas Jefferson, John F. Kennedy, and Bill Clinton. Some of the lowest-scoring presidents included James Monroe, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant.

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The article, "Presidential IQ, Openness, Intellectual Brilliance, and Leadership: Estimates and Correlations for 42 U.S. Chief Executives," is available to subscribers or for purchase through Blackwell Publishing.

Read entire article at Summary in the Chronicle of Higher Ed of an article in Political Psychology

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Randll Reese Besch - 3/23/2008

Time and again on tests of scholastic aptitude versus social intelligence (emotional bonding) have shown that if you work better with people you go futher than just "I.Q."rating or SAT & PSAT scores or even job performance.
There is also the problem of rating intelligence (there are many types not addressed) which can differ from social dexterity. Also the alienation factor that can come from a person that doesn't fit the social group's norm. I have a defect in that area of emotional intelligence plus the fact that I spend my time educating myself (instead of consuming opiates or sleeping) also put me at a disadvantage.
Just as it has been shone that creative genius isn't linked to intelligence so with a aformentioned dissconect between I.Q. and emotional intelligence.

Tim R. Furnish - 7/18/2006

This article is rubbish. How do you "estimate" IQs of long-dead men? Sheesh. Reminiscent of the "scholars" who argue that Luther nailed the theses up in Wittenberg because he wanted to rebel against his father.

Vernon Clayson - 7/15/2006

Shamefully, I read the whole article, mainly waiting for the comparison of Bush to Clinton. To say the least I was amazed that it wasn't directed to that, are we to assume the writer is fair and balanced, that he is a true scholar with no political leanings?

Alonzo Hamby - 7/15/2006

Based on the summary, I couldn't say much for the IQ of anyone who would bother to read the whole article.