Emory University Center for Science Education

Have you ever wondered what factors make up a genius? Who in our modern day society would you call a genius, and what makes them different than the rest of us?

As part of this website, we polled 161 Emory University freshmen for their opinion on this interesting topic. Here were the questions posed:

1. What is your definition of a genius?
a. Someone who can answer the most questions correct on a test
b. A person who always has unique problem solving ideas, invents new things, artistic talent
c. A person in a given environment who can perform optimally in that specific environment, even with limited resources (ex. in a remote tribe in Africa, the person who has developed the best skills for hunting, staying warm, etc. )

2. In your opinion, out of these people, circle the "genius":
a. Albert Einstein
b. Michael Jordan
c. Beethoven
d. Shakespeare

3. In your opinion, What is the most important factor that makes a genius a genius?
a. family upbringing
b. genes
c. ability to work hard, personal drive to be the best
d. brain size

In creating these questions, we intentionally chose talented individuals in a variety of fields (sports, music, literature and science) and hypothesized that individuals would chose the person they could identify with the most as the true genius. For example, a music major would choose Beethoven while a basketball player would choose Michael Jordan. Afterwards, we went back and interviewed four students with diverse majors who chose each of the four people, and asked them why they picked who they did.

The results of the survey are below, feel free to take the survey yourself and see how your opinion coincides with students at Emory University!

Take the survey | View the online survey results


Question 1: Definition of a Genius:

A 2%
B 76.5%
C 21.5%

Question 2: Choose the Genius:

A 54%
B 4.7%
C 23.3%
D 18%

(Surprisingly, there was no correlation with the individual's choice and their major)

Question 3: Most Important Factor in Qualifying a Genius:

A 6%
B 46%
C 43.2%
D 4.8%

Survey written and results compiled by Alicia Chang | Website designed by Nathan Ainslie