The Flynn effect was first put forward by the researcher James Flynn in the 1980s, when he explained that IQ test scores had increased compared to the past. “There seems to be an increase in the IQ level of the human population of about 3 points every 10 years,” Flynn said. became a theory with his word. Flynn found many supporters by other researchers investigating this effect. A research paper published by psychologist Lisa Trahan and her colleagues combined the results of other published studies (bringing together more than 14,000 participants in total) and saw IQ scores really increase since the 1950s. Studies show that although there are some exceptional documentation, IQ scores have generally increased over time. In response to this reality, Trahan and his colleagues said: “The existence of the Flynn effect is seldom discussed.”
What Causes the Flynn Effect?
While explaining the Flynn effect, researchers have suggested several theories. In addition to the developments in the field of health and nutrition, which are of paramount importance in this theory they put forward, compared to the previous century, factors such as the decrease in smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, the cessation of harmful lead and paint use are effective in the prevention and treatment of diseases.
When Scott Barry Kaufman, one of today’s psychologists, discussed psychology today, “The Flynn effect gives us more opportunities to heal over time, and the contribution to the increase in the number of people recovering is undeniable.”
In other words, the Flynn effect has started to address many public health problems that prevented people from reaching their full potential in previous generations since the twentieth century.
Another explanation for the Flynn effect is related to the social changes that occurred in the last century as a result of the Industrial Revolution. In a TED talk, Flynn explains that the world today is “a world in which we have to develop new mental habits, new mental habits.” Flynn attributes the increase in IQ scores to the intellectual activities in solving the most rapidly increasing problems in the increasingly complex world. He argues that the similarities between different things and the more abstract types of problem solving allow us to think, analyze and bring more things to life in the modern world.
Several ideas have been put forward to explain why modern society scores higher on IQ tests. For example; Most of us today want a good position in which to use analytical thinking. Education in schools has also changed in relation to these demands, while a test in school in the early 1900s may have been more focused on rote memorization, today a test is more likely to focus on explaining the reasons for something. Also, more people today can finish high school and continue college. The family structure tends to be smaller and it has been said that this may allow children to acquire new vocabulary as it increases the time to interact with their parents.
The time we spend for our entertainment outside of work has become more complex. For example, trying to understand and guess an important point in a favorite TV show or a book we read can actually make us smarter.
What Does the Flynn Effect Teach Us?
The Flynn effect tells us that the human mind is much more adaptable and agile than we think. It proves that our intellectual activities will not necessarily be developed from birth but with the environment and education. Especially if the society has moved to modern industry, our perspective on the world develops much more than our ancestors.
Discussing the Flynn effect, Malcolm Gladwell of New York writes: “If the measure of IQ tests achieves higher results in one generation, it cannot be the only reason for innate intelligence. In other words, the Flynn effect says that IQ is not what we actually think, but rather a natural, birth-earned measure of intelligence that can be shaped by the education we receive and the society we live in.