Sunday, May 26, 2024

Are IQ scores declining in developed countries?

Priya Kumari – Enigmatic Horizon Staff (Sub-editor)

In recent years, various studies have been conducted to find out the IQ scores of several developed countries. “People are getting dumber”, is something that has been stated by Evan Horowitz (director of research communication at FCLT Global). IQ is an acronym for the German word “Intelligence Quotient.” William Stern, a psychologist, was the one who invented it. The IQ test is conducted to measure the intelligence of an individual, which is the capability to understand reasoning and think analytically. Psychologist James R. Flynn, in his book “Beyond the Flynn Effect,” describes his model of the “Flynn Effect.”

He conducted a study of all the developed countries to measure the IQ scores over the past sixty years, and the data revealed that the IQ scores of one generation generally increased as compared to the next. According to Flynn, there are environmental causes, along with other causes, that lead to an increase in IQ levels from generation to generation. The first cause could be that people are involving themselves more in learning, both in formal and informal ways. Another cause is societal change. Today, people have no choice but to begin learning to work within a limited time frame. It sharpens an individual’s cognitive level and lets them think analytically. The third cause is possibly better nutrition. It reveals that consuming more nutritious food allows the brain to function quickly, and hence it helps to increase the IQ level. 

After several decades of observing an increase in intelligence scores, a sudden drop in intelligence scores has been observed since 1975. This effect is termed “Flynn Effect Reversal”. There is no such valid reason behind the Reverse Flynn Effect, but many argue that the reason behind this declining intelligence score is pollution as well as a decline in today’s education standards, etc. Many argued for remaining optimistic about it. There were several debates on “nature v/s nurture,” in which it was argued that the decline in IQ is due to genetics. Some scientists also debated whether the sudden fall in average IQ score is due to dysgenic fertility- which means lower IQ people give birth to too many children and high IQ people give birth to fewer children. A Norwegian scientist conducted a study to reveal the reason behind the rapid decline in intelligence scores. The study concluded that genetics is not the reason behind the Flynn effect reversal, but environmental changes.

After 1975, our environment started changing gradually. Developed countries started adopting advanced technology. Today, we are highly dependent on technology to solve our problems rather than trying to solve them ourselves using our brains. Today, most of us don’t try to think and solve problems analytically. Rather, we choose to rely on technology to solve the problem for us. Therefore, people are getting dumber day by day. It is a matter of concern for future generations, as they will be familiar with technology right after they are born. This will undoubtedly lead to a decline in their intelligence levels. Therefore, it’s high time to think about the coming generations and keep them away as much as possible from technology in their childhood. Instead, it is the responsibility of both parents and teachers to choose study material that will help children think analytically and sharpen their cognitive level. 

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