Another Interpretation of the Flynn Effect
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Student: Janet Meadows
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After reading several articles debating the Flynn Effect, a common theme seems present: there is a significant rise in the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) performance scores today in relation to the same scores over the past several decades and standardized acuity test (SAT) scores are declining (Ang, Rodgers, & Wanstrom, 2010; Grinblatt, Keloharju, & Linnainmaa, 2011; Must & Must, 2013; Nijenhuis & van der Flier, 2013; Williams, 2013). The question remains as to why, and of what significance are these findings? While researching these hypotheses many new theories have formed. Some say that dietary factors such as the added hormones in the foods that are consumed today play an important role in the rise in IQ but do not explain the decline of SAT scores. Another suggest that exposure to the many technological advances available today (computers, video games, smart phones, etc.) have an effect on today’s generation that past generations were not exposed to. Yet another popular theory relates the Flynn Effect phenomenon to the debate of nurture versus nature. Can environment make a difference in IQ and SAT scores (Ang, Rodgers, & Wanstrom, 2010; Grinblatt, Keloharju, & Linnainmaa, 2011; Must & Must, 2013; Nijenhuis & van der Flier, 2013; Williams, 2013)?
The debate and theories are endless. This author believes that a combination of all three of these theories may be a more logical explanation; however, it is one that is difficult to prove. As soon as an appropriate study could be performed (it would have to span many years for long term effects and accuracy), the cycle would start over and the next generation would have different environmental influences that the control group was not exposed to at the same phase of development. With this logic and reasoning, it seems to follow the thought process that environment may be the biggest player in this game of which comes first, the chicken or the egg, but in this case it would be what factor has the largest impact on IQ and SAT scores (Ang, Rodgers, & Wanstrom, 2010; Bennett et al., 2014; Grinblatt, Keloharju, & Linnainmaa, 2011; Must & Must, 2013; Nijenhuis & van der Flier, 2013; Williams, 2013).
Can environment really make that much difference in IQ and SAT scores? If that is the case, does the area in which you live make a difference in your overall intelligence? Do genetics have any impact in this equation? How does old fashioned education fit into this dilemma? Regardless of which theory you relate to, the debate continues. As soon as one question is answered another arises. One point may be (almost) decided and another factor becomes relevant. It is uncertain if the debate will ever be settled (Ang et al., 2010; Williams, 2013). Several studies have been performed to study this dilemma, but none are truly conclusive and inclusive of all populations and generations. This inconsistency leaves more questions looming for researchers to continue debating (Williams, 2013).