The question is simple- whether our mental ability i.e. ability to acquire and store knowledge and comprehend and analyse the stored bits, an inherited trait (i.e. genetically transmitted from the parent to the offspring) or is it an acquired trait (depends on environmental, social factors)?

P.S. - Please attach the link of any reference/research (if any) with your answer.

  • $\begingroup$ This question is probably more appropriate on the Cognitive Sciences S.E.. $\endgroup$
    – AMR
    Oct 17, 2015 at 20:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for you suggestion @AMR, posted it on Cognitive Sciences S.E. $\endgroup$
    – shraiyas
    Oct 17, 2015 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by intelligence? there are many different forms of intelligence... you have social intelligence for example, which if you're born with or develop autism, like me, you tend to lack here... There is also a difference between knowledge and wisdom. Without having done any research, but using myself and my family as example, I seem to be mathematical or logical, while the rest of my family fails in this area. The difference between me and the rest of my family, is simply that I learned programming as a 9 year old... This has consequences and advantages. $\endgroup$
    – user27740
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:14
  • $\begingroup$ point being, does it really have to be either inherited or acquired? can't it be both? and could there be a connection between what you occupy yourself with as a child and your intelligencies? I haven't answered your question, but I hope I gave you something to reflect over. $\endgroup$
    – user27740
    Nov 25, 2016 at 17:15

1 Answer 1


Standard IQ test are often considered the best proxy for intelligence. Studies show IQ heritability varying between 0.5 (ref) and 0.8 (ref).

TO make sense of these numbers, you will need to understand the concept of heritability. You can find info on this important concept in the post Why is a heritability coefficient not an index of how “genetic” something is?. Other posts also offer an intro to this concept (see this, this, this or this post). You can also simply have a look at wiki. You might want for example to be able to understand the equation $H_N^2=\frac{V_A}{V_P}$ without further explanations.

The H2DB database may interest you as well and of course the wiki page on heritability of IQ

  • $\begingroup$ I think epigenetic factors and training will affects this more than heredity. $\endgroup$
    – Dexter
    Oct 18, 2015 at 6:46
  • $\begingroup$ I think that this is a good technical starting point but it does not fully address the rather larger controversy. (And it's somewhat old) $\endgroup$ Dec 13, 2021 at 1:01

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