Tyler Cowen summarizes a few of the more surprising aspects of the Flynn effect, which refers to the phenomenon of rising scores on mental ability tests (like the IQ test) from one generation to the next:
1. Non-verbal IQ has risen more rapidly than has verbal IQ.
2. Performance gains are smallest on the most culturally specific tests, and largest on the most abstract tests.
3. Performance gains, as they occur over time, are roughly constant for all age groups.
4. Problem-solving abilities have seen the biggest performance gains.
Here’s the paper from which these factoids have been drawn.
What do you make of the Flynn effect? Are people actually getting smarter? Or are we just getting better at taking intelligence tests?