Journal of Biosocial Science

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Regular Articles

SECULAR GAINS IN FLUID INTELLIGENCE: EVIDENCE FROM THE CULTURE-FAIR INTELLIGENCE TEST


ROBERTO  COLOM  a1 and OSCAR  GARCÍA-LÓPEZ  a2
a1 Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
a2 Universidad Europea de Madrid, Madrid, Spain

Abstract

There is no doubt about the reality of the secular increase in cognitive test scores. However, there is disagreement about a key issue: does the observed increase reflect a genuine upward trend in intelligence? Evidence from the Raven test is clear, although there are some doubts about its adequacy as a fine-grained measure of fluid intelligence. Evidence from the so-called ‘method of correlated vectors’ is much less clear. When a crystallized battery is considered, the results leave little doubt: the increase does not reflect gains in general intelligence. However, when a fluid battery is analysed, the increase does reflect gains in general intelligence. The present study uses one of the best available measures of fluid intelligence (the Culture-Fair intelligence test) to provide new evidence for the secular increase in fluid intelligence, beyond the findings from the Raven test and the method of correlated vectors. A total of 4498 Spanish high school students and high school graduates were tested within a time interval of 20 and 23 years, respectively. The results show that there is a clear upward trend in intelligence. Moreover, students show an average increase equivalent to 6 IQ points, while graduates show an average increase of 4 IQ points. Therefore, more selected people (graduates) show a smaller increase than less selected people (students). Some implications are discussed.