Why didn't Einstein's descendants inherit Einstein's IQ

Do children really inherit their intelligence from their mother?

Studies are said to have shown that it is mothers who are responsible for children's intelligence. Fathers, on the other hand, should not have any influence on whether their offspring will be the next Einstein. Is it really that easy to say? We did some research.

“Children inherit their intelligence from their mother” or “Intelligence is inherited from their mother” - there are currently all sorts of headlines on the Internet that advertise that it is finally clear who is responsible for the intelligence of the offspring. The answer: the mother's genes determine how intelligent the children become. Fathers, on the other hand, should have little or no influence on the intelligence of their offspring. However, this is only half correct.

Smart like mom?

Most articles on the subject refer to a blog post from Psychology Spot, which aggregates a variety of studies on children's intelligence. Apart from the fact that the majority of the cited sources are already 20 to 30 years old, the main message of the article is that the majority of the “intelligence genes” are located on the X chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes, it is twice as likely that they will pass on their chromosomes and thus their “intelligence genes”.

In addition, the existence of so-called "conditioned genes" was discovered. Some genes - in this case mainly those that are supposed to be responsible for intelligence - only work if they come from the mother. If they come from the father, they are deactivated. (It works the other way around with other genes.)

To support this thesis, Psychology Spot also cites a study from Glasgow. Scientists have tested 12,686 adolescents between 14 and 22 over a period of years and have come to the conclusion that the best indication of the intelligence of adolescents is the IQ of their mothers. Most of the time, the IQ of the adolescents only deviated by around 15 points from the value of their mothers. And then the headline comes up that mothers are solely responsible for the intelligence of their offspring.

It is not that easy

Despite these studies, the claim that fathers are not (partly) responsible for the intelligence of their children is not tenable.

First of all, the probability of inheriting intelligence from the mother is only higher for sons, since they must have their X chromosome from the mother. In the case of daughters, the distribution looks completely different again.

Women do not have two identical X chromosomes. Put simply: so that information does not appear twice, it is activated on one chromosome and deactivated on the other. So just because the daughter inherits the mother's X chromosome doesn't mean that the information on it has to be activated; instead, the information on the father's X chromosome could also be used. So the daughter could inherit and use the "intelligence genes" of the father.

“Conditional genes” could play a role here and increase the likelihood that the mother's genes will be activated. But they have not been researched enough to make any final statements about them.

Intelligence is complicated

Scientists estimate that 40 to 60 percent of our intelligence is innate, i.e. genetically determined. The rest comes from upbringing, the environment, experiences and individual personality traits.

And here, too, the mothers seem to be ahead. Various studies show that the mother plays an important role in the intelligence development of her children as they grow up. For example, researchers from the University of Minnesota have shown that children who have a particularly strong bond with their mother were able to solve more complex tasks and also did not give up as quickly as other peers.

But that is also easy to explain: Mothers are (still) the main caregivers for the offspring. If the father were the main supervisor, the result would probably not be any different. What counts is the good relationship with the child, which gives the offspring security and self-confidence, not the gender of the caregiver.

Do you "do children really inherit their intelligence from their mother?" like? We would be happy if you share the article - and of course you are welcome to follow us on Facebook, Pinterest or Instagram.