Magazine article Science News

IQ Gains May Reach Rural Kenya's Kids. (Harvesting Intelligence)

Magazine article Science News

IQ Gains May Reach Rural Kenya's Kids. (Harvesting Intelligence)

Article excerpt

Over a recent 14-year stretch, the children of African farmers working in a mountainous region of Kenya appear to have cultivated a record crop of IQ points. These youngsters, ages 6 to 8, scored about 11 points higher in 1998 than their peers did in 1984, a new study finds.

This is the fastest increase in a population's average IQ ever reported, say psychologist Tamara C. Daley of the University of California, Los Angeles and her colleagues.

During the 20th century, average IQ in 20 industrialized nations rose 18 points in each 30-year generation. This phenomenon, first noted in 1987 by political scientist James R. Flynn of the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, is now called the Flynn effect.

At their current rate of increase, the Kenyan children would be expected to display a 24-point gain over 30 years, Daley's group reports in the May Psychological Science.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to document the Flynn effect in a rural area of a developing country," Daley says.

The researchers administered three tests commonly used in IQ assessments to 118 children in 1984 and 537 children in 1998. In a problem-solving test, kids selected an appropriate missing pattern that would make sense in a given series of patterns. A verbal test required children to examine four pictures and point to the one named by the tester. Finally, children flexed their memories by trying to repeat number lists of varying lengths spoken by the tester.

Scores on each of these tests increased markedly from 1984 to 1998. As in industrialized nations, the largest IQ jump occurred on the problem-solving test. …

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