Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Norms for the Standard Progressive Matrices in the Gaza Strip

Academic journal article Mankind Quarterly

Norms for the Standard Progressive Matrices in the Gaza Strip

Article excerpt

A research program to collect IQs for all nations in the world was initiated by Lynn (1978) and has been extended in a number of subsequent publications summarized by Lynn and Vanhanen (2012). In these studies, average national IQs are calculated in relation to a British mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15 and are designated "British IQ" or "Greenwich IQ". National IQs are significantly associated with a number of country-level social and economic indicators including educational attainment, per capita income, infant mortality and democratic institutions (Lynn and Vanhanen, 2012).

The Gaza Strip, with a population of approximately 1.85 million in 2015 that is growing by 3.4% per year, is an especially interesting case. Most residents of the territory are descended from approximately 250,000 refugees who were expelled from their homes in the Israeli territories in 1948. The Gaza Strip was occupied by Israel in 1967, which was followed by increasingly severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods. Since 1991, residents were not allowed to leave Gaza to travel to Israel or the West Bank without a special exit permit from the Israeli authorities, and borders were closed comprehensively in 2000. The movement of people and goods across the border was halted at that time resulting in a downward spiral of the Gazan economy. After the Israeli retreat in 2005, international economic sanctions began in 2006 followed by a comprehensive blockade in 2007 that is still in effect today (Filiu, 2014).

Widespread poverty and unemployment were the predictable results (Etkes and Zimring, 2015; Strand, 2014). The situation has been aggravated by periodic military incursions since 2006 that destroyed much of the infrastructure, with equally predictable effects on the people of Gaza (Manduca et al., 2014). According to the CIA's World Fact Book (https://www.cia.gov/ library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gz.html)the most recent incursion, in 2014, destroyed 20% of the territory's remaining industrial capacity, displaced more than 100,000 people and left 30% of households without potable water. Conditions are such that some analysts describe Gaza as the world's biggest prison (Marshall, 2014). Today the population depends on humanitarian assistance, primarily from the United Nations. Thus Gaza offers an interesting case study of a population that is kept in isolation, prevented from trade with the outside world, and kept at a subsistence level with mass starvation prevented only by food aid from the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations.

Also much of the educational system in Gaza is run by the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA), whose schools provide free education up to grade 9 for almost half of the school-aged children (Mercer, 2011). Most of the remaining schools in the territory are run by the local government, with very few private schools. There is, however, little information on the impact that the unique conditions in Gaza have on cognitive outcomes of school children. It is widely recognized by educational researchers that social and economic conditions, and in particular the quality of the educational system, are important influences on cognitive attainment (e.g., Batterjee, 2011; Lynn and Vanhanen, 2012). Also the biological factors of health and nutrition need to be considered as possible influences on cognitive development, and as possible causes of IQ differences between countries and across generations within countries (Lynn, 1989).

In their most recent compilation of national IQs Lynn and Vanhanen (2012, p.27) assign an IQ of 84.6 to Palestine. This was based on results of the PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) study of 15 year olds tested in a number of countries in 2009 in mathematics, science and reading. The PISA results are highly correlated with IQ, and have therefore been adopted as a proxy for IQ by Meisenberg & Lynn (2011). In a subsequent study, an IQ of 85 for Palestine was calculated from an administration of the Colored Progressive Matrices to a sample of 257 children aged 5. …

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