The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability

The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability

The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability

The G Factor: The Science of Mental Ability

Synopsis

The g factor--general mental ability--is the major construct for understanding both individual differences and the average differences between groups (race and sex) in educational and occupational attainment. It is also germane to social issues of national importance. Jensen fully and clearly explains the psychometric, statistical, genetic, and physiological basis of g, as well as the major theoretical challenges to the concept. For decades a key construct in differential psychology, the g factor's significance for the brain sciences as well as for education, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary psychology, economics, and public policy is clearly evident in this, the most comprehensive treatment of g available.

Excerpt

This book about the g factor has its origin in the aftermath of an almost booklength article (my 77th publication) that I wrote almost thirty years ago, titled How Much Can We Boost IQ and Scholastic Achievement? and published in the Harvard Educational Review in 1969. It had five main themes: (1) the malleability of IQ (or the latent trait it measures) by special psychological and educational interventions in the course of children's mental development; (2) the heritability of IQ; (3) social class and race differences in IQ; (4) the question of cultural bias in mental tests; (5) the need for universal education to tap types of learning ability that are relatively unrelated to IQ in order to achieve the benefits of education for all children throughout the wide range of abilities in the population. It made four main empirically based claims: (1) individual differences in IQ are largely a result of genetic differences but environment also plays a part; (2) the experimental attempts to raise the IQs of children at risk for low IQ and poor scholastic performance by various psychological and educational manipulations had yielded little, if any, lasting gains in IQ or scholastic achievement; (3) since most of the exclusively cultural-environment explanations for racial differences in these important variables were inconsistent and inadequate, genetic as well as environmental factors should be considered; (4) certain abilities, particularly rote-learning and memory, had little relation to IQ, which suggested that these non-IQ abilities could to some extent compensate for low IQ to improve the benefits of schooling for many children at risk for failure under traditional classroom instruction.

According to the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI), which publishes the Science Citation Index (SCI) and the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), this 1969 article soon became what the ISI terms a "citation classic"--an article (or book) with an unusually high frequency of citations in the scientific and professional journals. The onslaught of critiques and commentaries on the article, in both the popular media and the professional literature, made it clear that . . .

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