Are Kids Getting Smarter?

Have you ever noticed that your children seem much more intelligent than you were at their age, or that they more quickly absorb new concepts? Well, perhaps you can chalk your astute observations up to the “Flynn Effect.”
What is the Flynn Effect?

The Flynn effect is a theory which emphasizes the fact that average intelligence quotient (IQ) scores have risen over generations. James R. Flynn was the first person to systematically classify the IQ level comparison between successive generations.

The Flynn Effect

The noticeable difference between generations has been scientifically put forth by James Flynn, a political scientist from New Zealand. It has also been substantiated by various other psychologists and academicians, and has been observed across cultures, although in varying degrees.

“A standard IQ test administered to people from various generations has conclusively proved the fact that there has been a linear and uninterrupted increase in the average human intellectual capabilities. These test scores were normalized for every study being conducted. Normalization gives the average score for a particular group of people. The same test was administered to the next generation and the normalized result was compared with the previous test. The results have confirmed a higher intelligence quotient (IQ) level. According to Flynn, these effects are due to a combination of factors which undergo a drastic change with each successive generation.”

“The cognitive psychology of a succeeding generation has a lot of stimulation for the abstract mind, and hence a better interpretative ability to assimilate these ideas. This demands a lot of thinking and reasoning from an average human brain. A simple example can be the scientific advancement which has undergone a sea of change. A person now in his 40s had limited access to technological inventions, the web, or mobile communication in his childhood. In stark contrast to this, consider his son born in the 1990s, who is quite adept and comfortable using these advancements. Even though he is using these technologies unknowingly, (his brain comprehends more facts than what his father’s did, at his age) the average effort put in by his brain to understand a particular system is higher than his father’s brain. This can be due to variety of reasons like better nutrition, large-scale exposure to many concepts at a relatively tender age, interactive media and so on.”

“The Flynn effect is more evident in a rapidly developing country like India. The prior generation had a relatively easier access to its premier educational institutions, as the number of applicants for the seats was relatively less. India’s economy, health facilities, exposure to new facets of development and various such parameters have risen at a much faster pace in the past decade. This has created a huge demand for skilled professionals and an increased awareness among its burgeoning middle class about the importance of getting into premier institutes. Thus, although the intake has been increased negligibly, there has been an astounding rise in the number of students clearing the tests. This, despite the fact that the entrance tests have increased their difficulty level, which reiterates the fact that the general level has increased for a given set of population.”



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