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Young people 'getting less intelligent'

Study shows a decline in IQ scores, reversing the 'Flynn Effect' – a steady rise in intelligence over decades

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Study shows a decline in IQ scores, reversing the 'Flynn Effect' – a steady rise in intelligence over decades

Young people appear to be getting less intelligent, new research suggests.

The research, reported in the Times, found that IQ scores are dropping, after rising steadily since the 1930s.

The trend, which reverses a previous pattern of rising intelligence known as the “Flynn Effect”, has been partly attributed to less traditional teaching methods.

The study found that people born in 1991 scored about five points lower than those born in 1975 – and those born in 1975 scored on average three points lower on IQ tests than those born in 1962.

Definitions of intelligence

Researcher Ole Rogeberg told the Times that changes in the way children were educated or brought up – such as less time drilling pupils in reading and mathematics – were influential.

But, he said, the findings did not necessarily mean that young people were less clever than their parents; it could be that definitions of intelligence had yet to catch up with the skillset needed to navigate the digital era. 

Dr Rogeberg and Brent Bratsberg, of the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research in Oslo, analysed the cognitive ability scores of young people signing up for military conscription in Norway.

The results are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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