# IQ or IQ? Clarifying these concepts

**A help to understand the different nuances of these two words, and their use to talk about IQ.**

In popular language, when talking about aspects related to intelligence and cognitive abilities in general, it is common to hear the expressions IQ and IQ used as if they were synonyms.

It is not uncommon to find people, both those who specialize in psychology and those who have studied medicine and other fields, who use both terms in an undifferentiated way. Even books on the subject use both words interchangeably.

The purpose of this article is to explain which is the appropriate term, as well as to clarify the difference between quotient and coefficient. **clarify the difference between quotient and coefficient**The aim of this article is to explain which is the appropriate term, as well as to clarify the difference between quotient and coefficient, giving some examples related to their definitions and approaching this debate from a historical perspective.

## Quotient or intelligence quotient: what is the difference?

Turning to the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), we can find the definitions for "quotient" and "coefficient".

According to the RAE, the word quotient refers to the result obtained by dividing one quantity by another, while the word coefficient has among its meanings the term used to refer to a numerical expression of a property or characteristic, which is generally expressed as the relationship between two magnitudes. Although the RAE gives different definitions for "quotient" and "coefficient", it is certain that **exemplifies them with a similar expression: coefficient/ratio/quotient.**.

This is also the case in another institution specialized in clarifying linguistic doubts: the Fundéu BBVA. In fact, this organization has an entry on its website that deals with the "quotient" vs. "IQ" debate, indicating that, in essence, they are the same, and that both expressions are correct.

So, starting from the definitions given and resorting to the world of mathematics, **we will exemplify with formulas what exactly are the terms "quotient" and "coefficient".**. To do so, we will leave aside their relationship with the construct of intelligence, and then return to it.

### Basic definitions

A coefficient is, in essence, a factor, that is, something that multiplies something else, such as a linear function: y = ax + b. In this formula, a is the coefficient of x, because it multiplies it.

Also with coefficient, in scientific fields such as physics, reference is made to **a formula with which it is intended to discern the value of the property of a given element**as is the "coefficient of expansion". , which relates the length of an object to its temperature increment:ΔL = α Δt, where ΔL is the increment in length,α is the coefficient of dilation and Δt is the temperature increment.

A quotient is basically dividing something by something. A clear example of this is how IQ was calculated in its early days, by psychologists of the stature of Alfred Binet and William Stern. They basically divided mental age by chronological age and multiplied it by 100 to remove decimal values. Some might think that it is really a coefficient because it is multiplied by 100, but the truth is that it is not because this value is not always the same, moreover, it does not multiply a variable value.

As you can see, in specialized language institutions such as the RAE or the Fundéu BBVA, **sometimes the specialized opinion of language professionals is not taken into account.** of a given field, such as psychologists and pedagogues.

These institutions focus on how language is used in society and how it evolves. For this reason, in recent years, terms such as "toballa" or "cocreta" have been accepted in dictionaries, although specifying that their use is not formal, but reflecting the linguistic reality.

Although psychologists and other professionals specialized in health and social sciences respect the criteria and professionalism of linguists, philologists and other specialists in the fields of humanities and literature, we do demand that the term "intelligence quotient" be recognized as the only correct expression.

### Historical background.

**The first person to use the expression "intelligence quotient" was the German psychologist William Stern, in 1912, creating the word "IQ".**in 1912, creating the German word "intelligenzquotient". This term refers to the relative intellectual capacity of a person at the time of being evaluated. This is assessed by means of the results obtained in psychometric tests, and comparing them with the rest of people of the same age group. The IQ is distributed in the population in the form of a Gaussian bell, with a central value of 100 and a standard deviation of 15.

Alfred Binet, another psychologist of great importance, a native of Nice, France, calculated the IQ of the children who came to his office by means of a division: the mental age of the person divided by his chronological age, and multiplying the result by 100.

As we have already said, the original term came from the German "intelligenzquotient", and when it was translated into English it was translated literally as "intelligence quotient". In Spanish, on the other hand, speakers, whether specialized or not, are still hesitant today, especially if the language institutions treat both "cociente" and "coeficiente" as if they were synonyms in practice. **treat both "quotient" and "coefficient" as if they were synonyms in practice.**.

Although today the calculation of IQ has changed and alternatives to tests based on those used by Binet and Stern, among other psychologists of the time, have been proposed, the fact remains that the appropriate term is still "quotient". **the expression "intelligence quotient" is still appropriate.**.

However, as we have indicated above, there are many, both those who specialize in psychology and those who do not, who continue to use the expression "IQ". Based on this article and what has been explained in it, there is no longer any reason to fall into error.

Bibliographical references:

- Quotient. (2018.). In Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (23rd edition). Retrieved from https://dle.rae.es/?w=cociente
- Coeficiente. (2018). In Diccionario de la Real Academia Española (23rd edition). Retrieved from https://dle.rae.es/?id=9e8d8Dc

(Updated at Apr 14 / 2024)