I would like for a species to be more intelligent than humans, i.e. be able to solve logic puzzles quicker, make mental math calculations easier, and remember more information. But I do not want them to be so intelligent, they are bothered by the slower-thinking humans, or are just slightly annoyed about this.

Other than general improvement to their intelligence, their psychology remains the same as humans. The aliens and humans have fully merged their societies over the course of one hundred years, so they interact in just about every setting.

The average human IQ is 90 to 110, and I was guessing perhaps the average alien intelligence would be near 130-150. Does this make sense?

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    $\begingroup$ This depends on how they want to interact. There are plenty of value-added interactions for which IQ has no effects. However, if all they do is go around solving math problems all the time, humans with their low IQ will be pretty boring. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Nov 2 '17 at 21:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Alexander, I do not think that the intelligentsia get annoyed by us mere mortals, but I do think they have an additional filter between the moment of having something to say and the moment when they actually say it. Within that filter, they decide if their current audience has any chance of understanding what they would like to express. If the answer is "No", then they keep their mouths shut. Multi-tasking as they do, they go back to solving real problems in their heads, allowing us to blather on about the issue for which they already know the solution. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '17 at 21:45
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    $\begingroup$ There was some buzz some years ago about "EQ" or "emotional intelligence". I don't really know what came of that, but you may want to look it up. $\endgroup$
    – user
    Nov 2 '17 at 21:50
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    $\begingroup$ A little note here: IQ is a normalized scale, not an absolute one. By definition, the average human IQ is 100 (I believe the standard deviation tends to float around 15, incidentally, so about 95% of humans have an IQ between 70 and 130); if tests start providing an average figure higher than that (which has happened several times over the decades), the scale is altered and/or the tests are changed until that 100 average is restored. $\endgroup$
    – Palarran
    Nov 2 '17 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ IQ is such a subjective measure as to be meaningless. IQ measures acculturation as much as it does actual intelligence. In fact, even the definition of intelligence is subjective enough as to be nearly meaningless. Some people are phenomenal memorizers but poor problem solvers. Others are great problem solvers but can't remember their own name. Is an uneducated farmer who can resolve issues with a difficult calving with no warning in a rainstorm less intelligent than an engineer who re-designs the same cookie cutter gas plant over and over? $\endgroup$
    – pojo-guy
    Nov 3 '17 at 0:47

In any society, there are a range of personalities. It's likely that some members of your alien species would be irritated by humans - in the same way that some humans of average intelligence are irritated by humans with IQ in to 80's. But many (probably most) humans hardly even notice if they're talking to someone of lower IQ, and if they do most are forgiving of that. So if your aliens really do have the same psychology as humans, just with increased intelligence, then most of them should be basically fine with humans.

Also, consider the subject matter of conversations. A world-class mathematician probably won't be irritated by talking to a person of average intelligence about football - but talking to even an intelligent layman about mathematics might be extremely frustrating. It's possible that many of your aliens will find human company perfectly enjoyable, as long as the conversation stays away from technical or academic topics.

Assuming your society is vaguely capitalistic, you'd probably find that intelligence-based jobs - for example, research science positions - would tend to hire exclusively aliens, while professions for which intelligence isn't as critical would hire a mix; that means that humans and aliens wouldn't have much reason to talk science with each other, which would probably make everyone happier.

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    $\begingroup$ That's pretty much what I imagined happening. Down to jobs as well. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '17 at 22:02
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    $\begingroup$ This is not true that people do not notice that they talk with someone of much lower intelligence. According to the OP's specs, the average alien intelligence is about 45% higher than human. It is a very big gap. Aliens would perceive humans as slow-witted. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Nov 3 '17 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ There's a big difference between a gap of 20 and a gap of 40. $\endgroup$ Nov 3 '17 at 6:07
  • $\begingroup$ Most annoyance is caused by situations when low-IQ individual has some sort of authority (even situation-based one) over high-IQ individual. $\endgroup$
    – Alexander
    Nov 3 '17 at 21:29

Yes, but you honestly don't have to take my word for it. You can just ask humans with higher IQs if dumber people annoy them.

There's also no reason to assume that every alien will react the same way to someone with a lower IQ. If the aliens have a high EQ as well, there's no reason to assume that they'll slight humans for being dumb.

So just give your aliens above average empathy too and the problem you're worried about shouldn't develop.

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    $\begingroup$ +1. You could start by contacting your local Mensa chapter. Mensans by definition have an IQ of 130 or more on a standard IQ test, although of course there are far fewer with an IQ of 150. Get them liquored up to the point they answer your questions honestly, and ask them their opinion of "normal" humans. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '17 at 23:01
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    $\begingroup$ @StephanKolassa - But given that IQ tests (and particularly Mensa's) are deeply flawed and biased, what you'll most likely get from calling a Mensa chapter is someone with an ego who is happy to pay a yearly fee to be able to tell people they are superior. It wouldn't surprise me if they were disproportionately more likely to slight others, but not necessarily because they're any more intelligent. $\endgroup$
    – GrinningX
    Nov 2 '17 at 23:56
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    $\begingroup$ I had an IQ of 165 when I was tested in primary school 40 years ago.. Personally I think it's a bit of a disability. Also I'm reminded of a quote from Bertrand Russell "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." (I'm not in Mensa.. that seems like a weird organization to me). So to answer your question directly.. yes it's frustrating but I can't stop wondering if they maybe correct. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '17 at 23:57
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    $\begingroup$ Mensa is not a good sample for this purpose. I would expect a disproportionate share of high-IQ people who are uncomfortable dealing with normal people to join Mensa. Any high-IQ people who do not have that handicap would be more likely to spend their leisure time in groups that reflect their interests, religious views, politics etc. $\endgroup$ Nov 3 '17 at 4:15

Because it is going to be a very long response here is a short summary:

While your society might eventually reach an equilibrium and function smoothly, there will be distinct alien and human subcultures. I also believe that if aliens have the same psychological traits and tendencies as humans, humans will be perceived as second-class citizens earlier than later. The only exception if humans somehow can compensate for the intelligence gap. Alternatively, the aliens must have a set of attitudes and preferences different from humans.

General Differences

The way you describe aliens, I assume they would be superior to humans at least in three areas:

  • ability to see patterns and connect them;
  • speed of mental processing of information;
  • memory.


Higher intelligence improves an ability to see patterns and connecting them. (Patterns here mean any patterns from physical to mental.) While it may lead to better decisions and future predictions it is not necessarily so. Higher intelligence may also result in more biased decisions (because it is easier to justify those biases) and higher rates and success of manipulation others.

Despite the possible downsides, better pattern recognition, in general, gives an advantage in many areas of human life. Mostly, it is associated with better and faster learning.

Processing speed

People with high intelligence think faster. Partially it is associated with a greater ability to find patterns.

Faster thinking allows to process more information and respond to critical situations in a more timely manner.


Better memory is highly advantageous as it allows to retain more information, which leads to better pattern recognition and higher processing speed. Cross-referencing becomes much easier, as well as establishing not so obvious connections. The latter is very important for innovation and scientific research.

Some of the previous responders are very optimistic and assume that these differences in general abilities will not affect communication with intellectually inferior species (humans). But I seriously doubt it.

Aliens will have to explain their thought process to humans much more frequently and in more detail. This can be annoying. Their ability to draw on a greater number of references and connect them faster might trigger inferiority complex in humans. That will be annoying or even frustrating for humans.

I also want to note that despite our contemporary fascination with intelligence in many cultures people are not really fond of those who are smarter. 'Know-it-all' is a negative term in English. Dunning–Kruger effect might be in play here.

Intelligence and personality

Intelligence and personality are connected. High IQ correlates with intellectual openness, especially when it comes to intellectual engagement and mental quickness. The article also lists the following traits associated with high IQ (emphasis mine):

8 dimensions of personality outside the openness to experience domain were positively related to IQ, including organization, toughness, provocativeness, leadership, self-disclosure, emotional stability, moderation, and happiness-- although the correlations were much smaller than with intellectual engagement and mental quickness. IQ was negatively related to orderliness, morality, nurturance, tenderness, and sociability, but again, the negative correlations were much smaller than the relationships among IQ, intellectual engagement, and mental quickness.

Personality traits not related to IQ are:

gregariousness, friendliness, assertiveness, poise, talkativeness, social understanding, warmth, pleasantness, empathy, cooperation, sympathy, conscientiousness, efficiency, dutifulness, purposefulness, cautiousness, rationality, perfectionism, calmness, impulse control, imperturbability, cool-headedness, and tranquillity.

These correlations suggest that in addition to superior intellectual abilities aliens will have some tendency to be rebellious and not very inclined to follow social conventions.

When it comes to so-called Emotional Quotient (EQ, aka emotional intelligence), aliens should be not so different from humans. There is some anecdotal evidence that highly intelligent people are less socially adept, but it is questionable.

Us vs Them

I encourage you to read answers to this Quora question 'How do people with IQs of 140-200 think, from a social, intellectual, and practical point of view? ' to see how arrogant can people be when they perceive themselves as very intellectual. It will also provide you with a lot of personal accounts of differences in cognitive process between 'normal' people and high IQ individuals.

One of the fundamental human psychological traits is the desire to divide the world into Us and Them. As you state, aliens are not different from humans psychologically. The differences in intellectual abilities will be very obvious, thus, they will lead to a social division based on IQ. 'He is quite smart for a human' (in a surprised tone) would be something that aliens will tend to say about human prodigies.

If your society is similar to the contemporary with its emphasis on high IQ, humans will be reduced to the second-class citizens within a couple of generations. The aliens will be in all leadership positions.

There is no easy way out of this situation. Even if aliens are very caring, altruistic, and sharing, your humans will still have Us vs Them mentality. There must be a fundamental social change for this society to work without discriminating humans or aliens.

  • $\begingroup$ Funny that IQ is positively correlated with organization, yet negatively with orderliness. I'll have to read what they considered each category.... Just read it, makes perfect sense! $\endgroup$
    – R. Rankin
    Nov 3 '17 at 6:51
  • $\begingroup$ @R.Rankin, I find this kind of research fascinating. There is still so much we do not know. And at the same time, we tend to assume so much... most of the time incorrectly. $\endgroup$
    – Olga
    Nov 3 '17 at 8:09

No. You really should not generalize to aliens from humans, but since you specifically said the psychology is the same, I'll do it anyway. But I probably should warn that this is unlikely to be true in general.

Luckily the range you specified is below the threshold where people start to really think different and people in this range do not really feel that different. Just smarter and better.

They'd see us as slow and depending on their personality they might be patronizing ("They need our help and guidance...") or even abusive ("Since we are obviously better we are entitled to...").

In any case they would IMHO be very annoying for us to deal with not vice versa. They'd probably enjoy having people they can feel superior and smart in comparison to.

Note that among both humans and aliens there would be people considerably smarter than IQ150 and while there would proportionally probably be more such aliens than humans these people would probably associate on a more equal basis.

Which might annoy the majority of aliens, who might not appreciate a lowly human being smarter than they are or getting more respect than they do from the really smart aliens.

But such people are too rare for that to affect the general relationship between the species.


Keeping in mind that IQ is the ratio of intellectual age to physical age will, I think, help you with this.

There are a few existing relationships within that range you can examine for your aliens: parents compared to their children, professionals in high-IQ professions (medicine, law) compared to lay persons, people to their pets (a 2009 study showed that smart dogs have, depending on the subject area, the same capability as 2, 3, or 4 year old humans)

There is an idea of a "communication gap" past about 30 points of IQ, and that seems reflected in some of these relationships - kids don't understand when adults are talking about 'adult' topics, and some times there are Easter eggs in kids movies for the grown ups that go completely over the heads of the kids. Parents may read books about how to interact with their children, and High IQ professions take classes in communication and technical writing - training to communicate effectively by using smaller words, relational concepts, and pictures. Like the family pet, you can all get along (maybe), but you might consider it immoral for a child to engage in a contract with an adult or gross for a human to treat a pet as a person.

I thought I would edit this to provide some more examples specific to what you had asked. At 130, the gap is roughly that between a high school freshman and a high school senior. At 150, the gap is roughly the developmental distance between a second grader and a high school sophomore.

  • $\begingroup$ This definition of IQ hasn't been current in decades. That said, the gap at around 30 points seems to be a consistent and reliable phenomenon. $\endgroup$ Nov 3 '17 at 6:08

This kind of sounds like the TV series "Alien Nation." (It was a movie before it was a TV series, but I didn't watch the movie.)


In what little of the TV series I got to watch (and what I remember from almost 30 years ago), the aliens were smarter than humans, but generally held similar or the same jobs as humans. In fact, the two main characters were detectives, with one being human and one being an alien. The alien tended the solve the crimes, with the human being sort of the comic relief, but the human detective also had to teach the alien about how human minds work for the solution to be found.

Again, this is 30 year old, dusty memories of a TV show I almost never got to watch, so I could be way off. Sorry in advance, if this is the case. It was a good series, so hopefully you'll enjoy researching it.

Anyway, maybe you can take some cues from this series, because, for the record, I'm not suggesting you plagiarize the series and I'm also not suggesting you give up as "already been done."


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