Scientists show IQs on the rise

October 31, 2014 by Joanne Milne
Scientists show IQs on the rise
Study shows IQs are on the up

(Phys.org) —Human intelligence is thought to improve with each generation and a unique study of people born and raised in Aberdeen has proved that those in north-east Scotland are getting smarter.

The research by scientists at the University of Aberdeen and NHS Grampian has been published in the academic journal Intelligence.

Previous studies conducted around the world have shown an IQ increase by 3-4 points per decade. This phenomenon has come to be known as the 'Flynn effect', name after Professor James R Flynn who described it. The reason for this is unclear but better nutrition, health, higher living standards, and more socio-economic opportunities are thought to contribute.

The University of Aberdeen team examined two groups of people raised in Aberdeen, one born in 1921 and one born in 1936. These people are known as the Aberdeen Birth Cohort and were tested when they were aged 11 and when they were adults after the age of 62. The study consisted of 751 people all tested aged 11 and who were retested between 1998 and 2011 on up to five occasions.

Researchers compared the two groups at age 11 found an increase in IQ of 3.7 points which was marginally below what was expected but within the range seen in other studies. However, comparison in late life found an increase in IQ of 16.5 points which is over three times what was expected.

Dr Roger Staff, who led the study, describes the size of the intelligences gains as 'surprisingly large'. He said: "When you consider the life experiences of the two groups, those born in 1921 experienced the depression as teenagers and then World War Two.

"Those born in 1936 were children during the war and experienced food rationing. Although rationing meant that the food was not particularly appetising it was nutritious and probably superior to the older group. In addition, post war political changes such as the introduction of the welfare state and a greater emphasis on education probably ensured better health and greater opportunities.

"Finally, in their thirties and forties the 1936 group experienced the oil boom which brought them and the city prosperity. Taken together, good nutrition, education and occupational opportunities have resulted in this life long improvement in their . Aberdeen has been good for their IQ!

"These IQ gains are probably not unique to Aberdeen with similar with similar environmental changes being experienced across the UK."

Dr Staff and his collaborators now hope to expand their work to include a group of Aberdonians who were born in the 1950s known as the Aberdeen children of the fifties. Dr Staff expects the average Aberdonian IQ to increase further.

He added: "Those born in the fifties were raised in a boom time for Britain, the then prime minister Mr McMillian said at the time that 'we have never had it so good'. In addition, this group coincided with the expansion of higher education and have always lived and worked in an oil rich city."

The research findings were reviewed by Professor Flynn who first observed the phenomenon of generational intelligence increases. He commented that the study was 'very interesting' and that the results, 'should raise our estimates of British adult gains', in intelligence.

Explore further: Genetic study offers clues to how intelligence changes through life

More information: Aging trajectories of fluid intelligence in late life: The influence of age, practice and childhood IQ on Raven's Progressive Matrices, Intelligence,
Volume 47, November–December 2014, Pages 194–201. DOI: 10.1016/j.intell.2014.09.013

Related Stories

Noted authority says women now have higher IQ than men

July 18, 2012

(Medical Xpress) -- Psychologist James Flynn, who resides in New Zealand and is considered one of the foremost experts on intelligence testing, has aroused people’s attention around the world by proclaiming that women ...

Can parents make their kids smarter?

October 30, 2014

Reading bedtime stories, engaging in conversation and eating nightly dinners together are all positive ways in which parents interact with their children, but according to new research, none of these actions have any detectable ...

Recommended for you

10 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

BSD
3.2 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
In Australia it is due to a decline in religion and the idiots who practice it.
Returners
1 / 5 (2) Oct 31, 2014
Researchers compared the two groups at age 11 found an increase in IQ of 3.7 points which was marginally below what was expected but within the range seen in other studies. However, comparison in late life found an increase in IQ of 16.5 points which is over three times what was expected.


The older population was exposed to leaded gasoline for a longer period of time.

It's possible that the invention of Cesarean section has allowed intelligence to increase, and it has been on the increase ever since, due to an increase in the likelihood of children with higher cranial capacity surviving.

From what I can tell, high school education in America has shifted grade levels forward by about 1 to 1.3 years per decade, however, in the late-1980's they changed the age requirements on entry to kindergarten so that 1 of these 3 or 4 years in the past 40 years is due to a change in student age, not educational quality or base intelligence.
viko_mx
1.7 / 5 (6) Oct 31, 2014
All people are religious, but some of them believe in the Creator, and the other more educated and smart, in the god of pure happy chance, who is made everyting from nothing and order from chaos in out beautyfull world. If you convince stupid person that he is genius, he will believe, until smartest man will always doubt it.
antigoracle
not rated yet Oct 31, 2014
It's not just humans.
https://www.youtu...LOVmThjU
tritace
Oct 31, 2014
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Sinister1812
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
These researchers havent been on Facebook or Twitter lately.. lol
JoeBlue
3.3 / 5 (3) Nov 01, 2014
In Australia it is due to a decline in religion and the idiots who practice it.


Actually it probably has more to do with the more recent immigration policies.
Egleton
3.5 / 5 (2) Nov 01, 2014
In Australia it is due to a decline in religion and the idiots who practice it.


Explain First Cause. My God is the God of the Yawning Chasms of ignorance.

Don't stop looking or you will fall into the trap of certainty and dogmatism that I have no doubt you accuse the church of.
alfie_null
4.5 / 5 (4) Nov 01, 2014
I.Q. measurements, the bellwether of determining how well our minds work.< /sardonic>
docroc67
3 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2014
I'm pretty dubious about IQ as a measure of anything other than itself. But, to go along with the basic concept, have they tried here in the USA -- especially the south?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.