Friday, 08 December 2017 15:27

Celebrating Intelligence

Having lunch with the Chair of the Cyprus chapter of MENSA -  a feast for body and mind.

MENSA is the world’s oldest, largest and most prestigious international society of highly intelligent people which celebrated its 70th birthday anniversary last year. MENSA provides a forum for intellectual exchange among its members. There are members in more than 100 countries around the world.

Activities include the exchange of ideas through lectures, discussions, journals, special-interest groups, and local, regional, national and international gatherings; the investigations of members' opinions and attitudes; and assistance to researchers, inside and outside Mensa, in projects dealing with intelligence or Mensa.

Mensa Cyprus

The Mensa Cyprus was founded by Christina Angelidou - a process that started in September 2009.

At first, I was actually tempted to get a bit anxious over preparing questions for a highly intelligent person. It turned out a worry that is totally unjustified. But it does turn out that the stigmatism of elitism is something MENSA is regularly confronted with. Its members are however doing a great job dissipating this stereotype. And during their monthly meetings, guests of members are always welcome. 

Mensa Cyprus has currently over 90 members of all ages and backgrounds. The requirements for becoming a member are quite simple. However, they are not easy. Paper tests are administered upon appointment, usually in Limassol. A test contains 45 questions which are to be completed within 20  minutes. The minimum age to take the test is 14. Different IQ tests have different scales, MENSA considers the top 2% of the general population to have received a passing score.

Testing Intelligence

MENSA tests are ‘culture fair’ meaning test takers all have the same starting point, regardless of language, nationality, religion, educational or social background. A MENSA test contains only symbols and in each question one needs to find patterns, similarities, differences... based on logic. No particular knowledge is needed.

When first hearing about the test, I voice my opinion that this seems not fair. “I’m not good at ‘that kind of thing’. I am creative, I am good with languages, I can write...”

But the facts are this: The MENSA test measures Spearman’s general intelligence - the g factor. It turns out that people with a high g-intelligence score are good in all these specific areas: special understanding, maths, art, music. It does not work vice versa - talented people who have outstanding musical or artistic skills may not automatically have a high general intelligence score. The g-factor is genetic and runs through all mental abilities.

A warning against fake online tests

There are many IQ tests advertised on the internet which unlike the MENSA test, are not standardised, reliable or valid. “They are rubbish!" exclaims Angelidou". She feels that most online IQ tests are misleading and fraudulent and may even ask test takers only at the end to pay a fee in order to receive their test results. “It is disheartening, that someone is actually making money by cheating while MENSA members all hold their roles as volunteers,” says the Chair.

Better problem solving abilities in times of crisis

“Of course there are many talented AND intelligent people out there,” says Angelidou. “However, studies have shown, that ‘highly able people’ is the term we prefer - have better problem solving abilities in times of crisis. Dealing with crisis is a key component for us,” she explains.

“A high IQ is in no way a sign of elitism. Intelligence has to achieve a role, it is not a thing to boast about. This is why MENSA’s motto is ‘Human Intelligence - the world’s most valuable resource.’”

The main purposes of MENSA

- Identify intelligence by finding the 2% of the population with the highest IQ by administering the tests

- Research intelligence and its importance and application for the good of all

Provide a challenging environment at monthly meetings which are usually coupled with events and various visits or social functions. All meetings are open to members and their guests.

A record number of young members

Angelidou’s keen interest and research on Gifted Education and Intelligence contributed to Mensa Cyprus’s extraordinary numbers in the recruitment of highly able children and youths. Currently, about 35% of the membership is made up of children and young people below 18 years. The number of young people joining (the youngest joined at the age of 4 years and 5 months) is one of the main contributors to Mensa Cyprus’s membership growth. “Hopefully, this will be the basis for an enduring and successful group in Cyprus,” concludes Angelidou.

Welcoming applicants and guests

“MENSA is in no way a closed society and we want to distance ourselves from any accusations of elitism. Of course we mingle with everyone,” explains Angelidou. However, only those who have successfully passed the test with the highest 2% are eligible for the actual MENSA membership as otherwise the purpose and distinction would be defeated.

Anyone can request an appointment for a test and guests are always welcome at the meetings. More information about MENSA can be found at and about Mensa Cyprus in particular via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and the Facebook Page Mensa Cyprus

Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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