Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I.Q. And The Flynn Effect

James Flynn found that when I.Q. tests are averaged out across decades, there have been huge increases in I.Q. among Americans since WWII. But, it seems strange to say this is due to increased education since better I.Q. tests abstract from that. It also seems unlikely that we're just much smarter. The huge as yet unexplained increase is called the Flynn Effect. Tyler Cowen points us to a paper which offers a possible solution to the puzzle:
 "We propose that recent-born individuals have adopted an approach to analogy that enables them to infer higher-level relations requiring roles that are not intrinsic to the objects that constitute initial representations of items. This proposal is translated into item-specific predictions about differences between cohorts in pass rates and item-response patterns on the Raven’s Matrices, a seemingly culture-free test that registers the largest Flynn effect. Consistent with predictions, archival data reveal that individuals born around 1940 are less able to map objects at higher levels of relational abstraction than individuals born around 1990."

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