Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Intelligence test scores have stopped rising

Alexandra Frean:

It is a common refrain, repeated in response to every new television reality show and every bumper crop of school exam results: society is dumbing down. Scientists have long argued the opposite, pointing to the now widely accepted “Flynn effect”, which shows that over the past century average IQ scores have improved across the developed world, irrespective of class or creed.

Now the man who first observed this effect, the psychologist James Flynn, has made another observation: intelligence test scores have stopped rising.

Far from indicating that now we really are getting dumber, this may suggest that certain of our cognitive functions have reached — or nearly reached — the upper limits of what they will ever achieve, Professor Flynn believes. In other words, we can’t get much better at the mental tasks we are good at, no matter how hard we try.

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