Intelligence quotient, Sentience quotient, Encephalization quotient… novel ways to measure intelligence


Humans like measurements. They like measuring land, the weight of gold, their penis, their breasts, their wealth, their intelligence, their age, their skills, their whole life. 

That’s just back in the day.

We have now measured the size of an atom, the universe, facebook likes. That’s not enough, is it? Let us move to the reality of humans. We measure our everything and compare it with dogs and dolphins.

Let’s measure everything in the universe and brag about those numbers that make us look good.
– A human. 

Let's measure everything in the universe and brag about those numbers that make us look good – A human Click To Tweet

The fascinating art of measuring the human


Doctors love measuring.

You go visit a clinic; wait until it’s your turn. Then comes the measurement.

“Stand on the weighing scale (I want you to realize you are fat), now give me your arm (I want to know if your blood pressure is fine).”

That’s not it.

You go to a job interview and get selected for the next round. Score. Now it’s their turn to have fun with you. They invite you for an assessment.

“You’ll have one thousand four hundred and twenty-nine tests to take. You’ll be doing your EQ, IQ, aptitude, personality, adaptability, workplace ethics, etc.” You have no option but to ace them.

IQ and EQ have been popular because they seem to measure something holistic and useful. The story doesn’t end here. I won’t get into how good these tests are.

IQ = Intelligence quotient: Measure your general intelligence
EQ = Emotional quotient: Measure your emotional intelligence

Because we like to measure something that seems fun or useful, humans have formulated a number of _Qs that measure something unique.

There are a lot of Quotients we can make to quantify you. Sometimes they are useful at the level of individuality, sometimes, at the level of a whole species.

Let us look at these quotients one by one.

Intelligence quotient (IQ): 

It began with measuring your mental age with respect to your actual age. But that soon changed. Researchers decided to investigate further and attempted at looking at a generalized factor of intelligence that correlates with certain cognitive capacities.

Researchers have proposed having multiple facets to intelligence such as spatial cognition, verbal fluency, vocabulary, working memory, logical and mathematical skills, pattern recognition, etc. These aspects do not directly mean ‘intelligence’. I’d like to point out that intelligence is considered as an abstraction that correlates with these factors.

Then there is the factor of what you have learned through experience and your baseline mental ability. These feed into each other and sometime early in life, they start functioning holistically. So intelligence is largely variable if you choose to make it variable. Thought I’d add this note because it’s a common query. 

Resource for intelligence quotient

Emotional Intelligence quotient(EQ): 

The emotional intelligence quotient has gotten a lot of traction in recent times. It correlates with your emotional maturity, capacity to understand and react to others, and your capacity to reflect on your own emotions.

Emotional intelligence specifically measures your empathy, social skills, self-awareness, self-regulation, and motivation. These are the primary aspects that are associated with healthy emotional and social wellbeing.
Resource for emotional intelligence quotient

Social intelligence quotient (SQ):  

Man is a social animal – something nearly every school kid has learned. It’s only natural that man would then find a measure of how socially intelligent one is. SQ measures how socially aware you are, your capacity to manage complex social situations, social attitudes, and social beliefs. I’d say it is a good measure of personal and social growth.
Resource for Social intelligence quotient

Humanity quotient (HQ): 

The measure of your humanity. Whatever that means. But yeah humanity is a big thing, so people did work toward measuring it. The score is computed as the ratio of proactivity and reactivity. HQ has become a popular measure of leadership development. Within a workspace, the workforce can be trained on 3 dimensions – cognitive, interpersonal,  and behavioural. When integrated, a hotspot for effective leaders and productivity is created.
Resource for the Humanity quotient     And now, the cool quotients……. Read on! 

Sentience quotient (SQ): 

This unique measure looks at a much more practical evaluation of the human capacity. It measures the ratio of a brain’s information processing capacity to its mass. The lowest sentience quotient would be for a single neuron performing one function inside a brain the size of the universe.

SQ=log _{{10}}left({frac {I}{M}}right)

I is the measure of information processing – bits per second.
M is the mass of the brain.

SQ is, in my opinion, elegant and dives right into an abstraction that may belie true intelligence.

Resource for the Sentience quotient

human Intelligence

© Michel Royon / Wikimedia Commons

Encephalization quotient (EQ):

This EQ is quite a good approximation. It loosely correlates with the intelligence of a species relative to other species.

An intuitive measure would be asking the question – how big is the brain? But bigger is not always better. Well, some would disagree. Size should be measured relative to something. We choose Brain size to body size as a ratio. Now elephants have bigger brains than humans but the body sizes are largely different. The problem with this measure is that it is intuitive so easy to use in a misguided way. A lot of the brain is dedicated to guiding muscle movement. More muscle and more moving capacity would correlate with more dedicated neurons.

Here are some examples of pure brain weight to body weight ratios:

  • Human male. Brain: 1.4 kg. Weight: 75 kg. Ratio: 1.86%
  • Bottle-nosed dolphin. Brain: 1.5 kg. Weight: 120 kg. Ratio: 1.25%
  • Chimpanzee. Brain: 0.4 kg. Weight: 45 kg. Ratio: 0.88%
  • African gray parrot. Brain: 0.0057 kg. Weight: 0.33 kg. Ratio: 1.72%
  • Shrew mouse: Brain: 3 g. Weight: 30 g. Ratio: 10%

Do you see how the shrew mouse has the best ratio? Clearly, a shrew mouse isn’t smarter than humans. What about fat people. Someone who is obese will have a lower ratio, but they are also within the human range of intelligence. So body size is not reliable on its own.   

Because of these limitations, we move to a more sophisticated measure. That is- the ratio of the actual brain size of a creature to its predicted size relative to body weight within a taxonomic group.

We use this formula for mammals:

EQ=brain−weight(0.12 × body−weight((2/3))

The constants in this formula are computed for mammals. For other categories, the numbers would differ. If you are interested in the technical aspects of the formula, I’d suggest looking at allometry.

So within a group of creatures, say mammals, the ratio gives a relative measure of how large the brain is to enable a cognitive capacity after accounting for the brain areas that govern bodily functions.

EQ is the measure of how the brain of a species deviates from its expected average with a biologically similar cluster.  After measuring EQ, we can see these EQs:

Human – 7
Dolphin – 5.3
Chimpanzee – 2.5
Elephant – 1.87
Cat – 1.17
Dog – 1.0
Rat – 0.4
Rabbit – 0.4

When we look at intelligent behaviours for each of these mammals, it makes sense to see that order.

Resource for the encephalization quotient

Now for the heck of it, one can take any aspect of being human and add the word quotient to it. But I am only highlighting the ones which are at least slightly useful and rigorously understood.

My favorite measure is the sentience quotient. It would be useful to understand alien lifeforms and measure the capacity of AI.

———————–The End———————–

P.S. I have a draft pending on aliens for a long long time. Still researching on how we could communicate with them once we make First contact! Perhaps that work will help with a global understanding of a functional intelligence that tells us what behaviors and information processing capacity a creature has/is capable of.

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3 thoughts on “Intelligence quotient, Sentience quotient, Encephalization quotient… novel ways to measure intelligence”

  1. there seems to be 1 relevant quotient missing here:
    the ratio of percentage of brain mass dedicated to all background processes (such as regulatory, pattern recognition, instinct responses in survival situations, etc) vs. foreground processing (conscious thought, abstract thinking and interpretation). Also, not accounted for are variations in neuronal connections that lead to specific skills or capabilities being strengthened or diminished on an individual basis. this ratio might give a more accurate representation of an individual’s overall capabilities.

    just some musings on my part, I guess. 🙂

  2. You seem to have overlooked SQ, spiritual intelligence. If you allow the the intelligencies to support SQ, which for me takes the lead role then measurement becomes null and void. You can just be as can everyone else if the wish to☆


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