IQ and the Flynn Affect

Professor James Flynn is a New Zealand researcher who is known for studying intelligence.  The Flynn Affect refers to, “the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.”

There is a debate about whether IQ scores are improving without a corresponding rise in intelligence. There is even conflicting reports that IQ scores are dropping. If they are actually rising, some speculate that there are a number of contributing factors including: education, technology, nutrition, and removal of toxins from the environment.

While countries have made gains of up to 25 points in intelligence, there may be difficulty making comparisons due to testing measures. Some tests are based on fluid intelligence, while others are based on crystalized intelligence.  For explanations about these intelligence tests, check out: The Flynn Affect

David Shenk, author of the article The Truth About IQ explained, “IQ tests measure current academic abilities — not any sort of fixed, innate intelligence. More specifically, the best-known IQ battery, “Stanford-Binet 5,” measures Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Collectively, these skills are known as “symbolic logic.” Among other things, IQ tests do not measure creativity; they do not measure “practical intelligence” (otherwise known as “street smarts”); and they do not measure what some psychologists call “emotional intelligence.”

Flynn’s most recent research had some important findings for women.  In the ABC News article Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for the First Time, author Carrie Gann explained, “James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.”

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