IQ scores in the US have fallen for the first time in decades, according to new study
The future may not be as bright for Americans
The study, which was published in the journal Intelligence this month, indicated that IQ levels had lowered, especially for those with less education in the 18 to 22 age group.
The researchers set out to determine whether or not the Flynn effect — the steady increase in IQ scores across generations — had changed from 2006 to 2018 in the US.
Younger generations are “expected” to have a higher IQ score than the previous age group. Since 1932, average IQ scores have increased around three to five points per decade, the researchers explained.
The researchers noted that there have been a dearth of studies focused on the US when compared to European countries. A Norwegian study from 2018 suggested that IQ scores had been dropping in that country for decades, CNN reported.
In their study, they looked at nearly 400,000 IQ tests completed online by US adults from 2006 through 2018 through the Synthetic Aperture Personality Assessment Project (SAPA Project) and data from the International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR) from 2011 to 2018.
They used data from both tests and compared them to each other. Both were used to examine the trends, and compared two kinds of scores: one having to do with cognitive ability, and the other having to do with skills like matrix and verbal reasoning.
An IQ test typically measures a variety of cognitive abilities, according to VeryWell Mind, and is meant to help understand someone’s intellectual ability and their potential.
However, there have been criticisms of the test, as they can sometimes be misinterpreted, according to Discover Magazine.
This can happen when people look at certain portions of the test, and not the overall result, for answers about their intelligence. The outlet also noted that someone’s IQ score can change based on how motivated people are to take it or how much effort they put in.
But psychologist Stefan C. Dombrowski, who works at Rider University in New Jersey, told the magazine that when the tests are understood correctly, they do have “meaning” and are “valid measures of intelligence.”
Their findings suggested that there was a reversed Flynn effect present in both of these tests, meaning that IQ scores are declining, not rising.
However, there was one area of the test that did increase, they noted, in the three-dimensional rotation score, which has to do with spatial reasoning.
Those who had lower levels of education also had decreasing scores. People with higher levels of education, such as a four-year degree, had less of a decline, but not for younger test-takers, the researchers suggested.
“As scores were lower for more recent participants across all levels of education, this might suggest that either the caliber of education has decreased across this study’s sample and/or that there has been a shift in the perceived value of certain cognitive skills,” the authors wrote in the study.