How Likely Are Two Average Parents To Have A Gifted Child?

The standard, quantifiable definition of “gifted” denotes possessing an IQ of 130 or higher as per Psychometric testing, though there’s also musical, artistic, creative, and athletic giftedness. These are considered by many to be concrete forms of intelligence in and of themselves (Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences), while they can also be loosely categorized as a category of testable aptitudes having confluence on each other. A good example of this is musical intelligence, which involves both verbal and non-verbal aptitudes.

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Talents/gifts involving abilities such as verbal, mathematical, and spatial skills are tested directly through IQ tests, while other talents/gifts related to these types of abilities harder to define with certainty.

Since the easiest way to answer this question is with IQ, I will use IQ statistics. 1 in 44 people have an IQ on 130, or 97.72%. Intelligence is too complex of a trait to be considered recessive or dominant, and is affected by multiple genes. However, since giftedness tends to run in families, you can think of giftedness as a recessive trait in average adults and dominant trait in two gifted adults, just as a means of conceptualizing it. Therefore, two average adults have have a 1 in 4 chance of having a gifted child, while two gifted parents would have 3 in 4 chance of having a gifted child. Therefore, of the 1 in 44 children with IQ’s over 130, which rounds up to 2% 1.5 of the 2 percent would come from the gifted adults, while .5 of the 2 percent of the gifted kids would come from the average adults. The earth’s population is roughly 8 billion and the number of people with IQ’s over 130 is roughly 160,000,000. In the most likely scenario, 120,000,000 of those gifted individuals came from gifted parents, while 40,000,000 would have come from average parents.

What is an IQ score?

IQ scaleInterpretation of IQ score% of population
above 130Very Superior2.1%
121-130Superior6.4%
111-120Above average intelligence15.7%
90-110Average intelligence51.6%
80-89Below average intelligence15.7%
70-79Cognitively impaired6.4%

An IQ test score is a psychometric score calculated based upon a norm group with an average score of 100 and the most common standard deviations of 15 or 16. The standard deviation is a measure of range, in this case it refers to a range of IQ scores. A standard devation of 15 means 68% of the norm group has scored between 85 (100 – 15) and 115 (100 + 15). In other words, 68% of the norm group has a score within one standard deviation of the average (100).

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