Do Bilinguals Have Higher IQ?
There have been many types of research that discuss the possibility of whether bilingualism makes one more intelligent and helps deliver better performance in day-to-day activities. This topic, however, has been subject to much speculation and has had support and negations with diverse points of view.
This is the age of globalization that yearns for a dynamic outlook with the universal language being English – but we are, after all, not an entirely English-speaking world. Eventually, the majority of the population are prone to speak at least two languages in general. While that certainly adds to the cognitive reserve, does it justify a higher IQ than those who can speak just one language?
Arenas such as SaaS, banking, law, healthcare, even entertainment sectors such as online gambling – they all largely use multilingual websites! Yet still, the kind of terminologies each sector uses requires a wider understanding. For example, at a given iGaming site, all casino games may be available in a certain language, but you’d still have to know what Wagering Requirement means or how to decipher the gaming rules of certain complex slot machines or table games. For such parlance, the impact of language has bigger stones to move to instil into the aspects of human cognition where estimation, perception and conceptualization have to be.
Conclusions/Observations Made So Far by Various Researchers
While it is hard to draw a conclusion to such a widely debated matter, for there would still be contradictions, there would still be further researches with new findings and new perceptions.
But when it comes to facts that have been established, there is this observation by a psychology professor at New York University, Toronto, Ellen Bialystok, who mentions that until the 1970s many academicians believed that bilingualism did more harm than benefit! It is because of the belief that children dealing with two-three different languages in different phases of personal and academic lives are most likely to have confused and mixed speech patterns. In fact, many people also believed that speaking different languages could cause a delay in cognitive development. That Could Not Be True! By now, it has been “established” that microdecisions infused by different languages known to the brain are bent on strengthening the executive brain functionality. But terms like “make you smarter” or “have higher IQ” may not be appropriate.
Multiculturalism and the Intelligence Era
While bilingualism was once considered a superpower, today, the growth of multiculturalism across the world has brought with it bilingualism, much like a new software update brings a new bug fix. We are advancing to the Intelligent Era. And knowing several languages is more and more normal. But how it improve our IQ is still a foggy forest!
Several studies succeed in proving that bilingual minds, in using their executive functioning, may excel from a monolingual perspective, wherein bilinguals have shown greater adeptness in switching between tasks or simple things like locating a person amidst a crowd or having more carefulness, attentiveness. However, an executive function, though a part of intelligence, is the definition of intelligence. Then again it is still difficult to pinpoint what intelligence actually consists of, and even its definition remains debatable.
It is though still undoubtedly a plus to be bilingual or even multilingual. Each language that a person becomes proficient in, he or she, develops what psychologists call a lexicon. It simply applies to a chain of instructions, procedures and a structure that conveys to the brain how it should comprehend words. It’s also a process by which one can fathom what is to come next, and if it is a bilingual term, then one can predict words from both languages. Another surprising aspect of this is that the part of the brain is always active where the lexicon is stored.
Unlike bilinguals, the monolinguals look at the object, and only one option as a word will be presented. On the contrary, for the former, both words will present themselves in the brain.
This in turn shows how there are better communication and understanding skills ingrained in the minds of the bilinguals who can strengthen their executive functions in social contexts, to have a wider horizon to explore and configure themselves to work more efficiently. This concept has been coined as neuroplasticity.
Recent Evidence Showcasing the Potentials of Bilinguals and Objections on Bilinguals Outsmarting the Monolinguals
Brain tracking machines such as the fMRI has been used to test the brains of both monolinguals and bilinguals by professor of psychology Arturo Hernandez at the University of Houston. He concluded from his work that bilinguals are more active in both the hemispheres of the prefrontal cortex, which operates the executive functions. Though the bilingual’s relation with intelligence is shrouded in controversy: it cannot be denied that these people operate way better in a lot of things than monolinguals and hence, that does make them appear smarter. So, turning up to the more recent study in this chronology is renowned psychologist Susan Pinker’s Wall Street Journal publication, where she suggests otherwise and stands firm on the belief that knowing more than one language does not make one more intelligent.
To conclude, it can be said that bilinguals undoubtedly are in an advantageous position in many aspects when speaking in social contexts. However, that does not hold them in a superior position from a higher IQ level than monolingual humans. But of course, this topic is still subject to more experiments and observations by psychologists and researchers with new debatable findings!