Exploring the Concept of The Flynn Effect
2. Historical review of this concept
Part II: Implications of The Flynn Effect (1000 words)
1. Implications for the Identification of Learning and Intellectual Disabilities
The term Flynn effect refers to the observed rise in Intelligence Quotient (IQ) score from early generation to the later or current generation (Beaujean & Sheng, 2014). The concept is associated with James Flynn, who in 1984 conducted a study and published an article discussing different intellectual capabilities of the different generations among the United States populations. In the study, Flynn used a sample of 7431 participants on which he compared the scores recorded on different intelligence tests over time, using Wechsler scale and Stanford-Binet intelligence scales. The study compared the Intelligence Quotient score obtained from the sample collected at two different points of time. On his observations, James Flynn observed a steady improvement of the intellectual level of Intelligence Quotient (Carvalho et al., 2020). He also noted that those who had a higher Intelligence Quotient had older norms, and those who had lower Intelligence Quotient had younger norms. This is what led to the development of” Concept of Flynn Effect”. Flynn effect theory attributes improve intellectual abilities over time to better nutrition, advancement in the education system, and new technology (Bratsberg & Rogeberg, 2018). The concept of the Flynn effect was supported by (Trahan et al., 2014). Trahan and colleagues presented the historical background of the “Flynn effect” and started by defining it as an observed increase of standardized intelligence over the years. In the study, Flynn observed that the 1978 generation had a higher IQ than the 1932 generation.
Flynn’s study that led to the development of “Flynn Effect” can be attributed to the past works and studies that strived understand the development of human intelligence over time. For example, Charles Darwin, in the evolution theory, established that the earlier version of human beings had lesser intellectual capacity compared to the later versions. Many studies, as cited by Whitaker (2013), have also confirmed that in the past, people differed in the fitness of the brain and keenness of mind.
Sir Francis Galton and Paul Broca were among the first scientist to invent the measure of Intelligence Quotient. To understand the concept of the Flynn effect, you have to understand the development of IQ testing. Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon were the first to conduct a successful modern test on Intelligence Quotient in 1904 (Dutton, & Lynn, 2015). In France, the ministry of education asked these two scientists to develop a test that would distinguish normal, intelligent children from mentally retarded children. Their research is based on the children’s logical reasoning, the ability to name objects and pronounce words by the children (Dutton et al., 2016). Also, they considered the children’s age in their research. This resulted in the Simon-Binet Intelligence Quotient test. The Intelligence Quotient was calculated by dividing the mental age by the chronological age of the children multiplied by a hundred. Their research became a success in America and Europe at large.
Based on the general concept of Intelligence Quotient, the level of Intelligence Quotient has continually increased from the past. The idea of improving the Intelligence Quotient from generation to generation explains the Flynn effect concept. Flynn effect implies that a person will have a higher Intelligence Quotient score on the current version than the earlier version. In his research on the difference between the previous generation and the current generation in IQ, James R Flynn explained three causes that enhance Intelligence Quotient; education, societal changes, and better nutrition (Pietschnig & Voracek, 2015). In different countries, the level of education keeps on increasing. Many people invest in education and spend most of their time learning and being examined to acquire formal education. This factor has led to the general improvement in the Intelligence Quotient of many people.
Change in education systems in the twentieth century has contributed much to the Flynn effect. The change is brought by the introduction of compulsory basic education and the realization of education as a key factor to success in many countries. Due to the improvement of the education systems, the world’s illiteracy levels have generally decreased; thus, the number of school attendance has increased in primary schools, secondary schools, and tertiary education bodies. Education stimulates the overall development of a person’s basic skills (Graves et al., 2019). These skills have a very important role in developing concepts in the brain, memory development, and development of perceptual skills, which contribute to the general Intelligence Quotient of a person. Change in education systems has the largest impact on the Flynn effect among the three causes. This is because education is a broad aspect that covers other causes. Education has a significant impact as it keeps changing over time and is directly related to improving humans’ literacy levels. The intelligent quotient of a person will increase with the education level.
Societal changes may refer to changes in family characteristics and the changes in society as a whole. Family characteristics have changed in the twentieth century in terms of family income, improvement in education levels, which has, in turn, increased professional qualifications. This has shaped the family from how the family was operating in the past. Parents have the resources to invest in the education of their children. Also, parents are well informed about child development and the factors that stimulate intellectual development. They have realized the importance of spending their time with their children (Nettelbeck & Wilson, 2004). The home environment’s quality has also improved in terms of physical environment and conditions that can lead to academic stimulation. Also, changes in technology in the twentieth century have contributed to the improvement in people’s intellectual levels. People are more exposed to the technological environment since they are kids, which boosts their Intelligent Quotient. For instance, washing in the past was being done manually, but in the current society, washing is done using washing machines. A child born today will grow to develop cognitive skills in using the washing machines. Similarly, mobile phones in this century have led to the development of cognitive skills among the young. Technology has, therefore, exposed the current generation to different environments enhancing their learning. The introduction of technological devices requires a continuous learning activity, thus a continuous improvement in the intelligent quotient.Nutrition is responsible for massive Intelligent Quotient gains. Better nutrition is vital in maintaining optimal brain functioning. This is because nutrition facilitates the brain with metabolic fuel in the form of glucose. Studies have unveiled the importance of better nutrition, stating that nutrition plays a key role in the development of cognition and development behaviour (Richardson, 2002). This can be reflected in terms of weight and height for a given age. An increase in height indicates intellectual development. Improvement in nutrition in the twentieth century has been linked to the reduction of infant mortality rate. A well-nourished brain will perform better in integrating and understanding the general concept of Intelligence Quotient tests. From the past, diet and nutrition have been improving, which might cause an increase in the Intelligence Quotient score over generations.
A study conducted by Trahan, Stuebing, Fletcher, and Hiscock, 2014 on Wechsler tests and the Standford Binet test revealed that about 2.93 points on Intelligence Quotient score kept on improving in each decade and that there was no evidence that the effect was fading (Rindermann, & Becker, 2018). Contrary to Pietschning and Voracek 2015 reported that the effect was diminishing in recent decades. They reported that the effect was strong in adults compared to the effect in children and that the magnitude of the effect was different in different types of intelligence. Different studies show differences in the Flynn effect, where some reveal a positive Flynn effect while others reveal a reverse Flynn effect (Rindermann, Becker, & Coyle, 2017). James Flynn explained this issue, saying that the Intelligence Quotient tests do not measure intelligence indicating a people’s problem-solving ability. He argued that the three causes that enhance the gaining of Intelligence Quotient did not reflect intelligence; rather, they are factors that enhanced the development of Intelligence Quotient. If then they did reflect intelligence, then there could be consequent changes in society.
Implications of the Flynn Effect
The Flynn effect, as developed by James Flynn, has had several implications, effects, or consequences in various fields. Listed below are the implications for identifying learning and intellectual disabilities due to the Flynn effect and implications for legal evaluation in Australia (Rönnlund, & Nilsson, 2009). In 2004 specific learning disorder was adopted by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA). The main objective was to improve the education system of people with disabilities, improving their intellectual levels. Currently, the most prevalent diagnosis of a learning disorder is under the code of federal regulations for special education programs and is based on clinical findings (Vainikainen & Hautamäki, 2020). Currently, schools do not use discrepancy between academic achievement and intellectual level for the criterion for learning disorders, though many schools of district and jurisdictions still recommend the discrepancy.
Research conducted by Kanaya and Ceci (2012) on the potential effect of Flynn’s effect on the diagnosis of specific learning disorders reveals a significant drop in the number of children eligible for the special education program. Children who were spotted to have learning disorders were retested using the Wechsler intelligence scale, and the results indicated a decline in their intellectual level, and hence they did not meet the criteria for a learning disorder. This is a result of the Flynn effect. This reflects that there is a significant improvement in the intelligence quotient of the children on the increase in their age, showing that there is a linear relationship between age and intellectual capabilities.Related observations made concerning the tests of intellectual disabilities according to the criteria specified by the American association on intellectual and developmental disabilities (AAIDD) and the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5). As an impact of the Flynn effect, the number of people tested to be mentally returned based on the intelligent quotient is equal or below 70 will eventually decrease due to the aging of test norms (Troncone et al., 2020). Contrary to this, the numbers will increase with the publication of new norms. The study done by Cesi agreed on the decreasing number of people due to aging norms.
Education has unfolded the impact of the Flynn effect in the twentieth century. Most countries have realized the importance of education on general improvement in people’s intellectual capabilities. This because various studies on the impact of the Flynn effect have shown up the improvement of schooling intelligence and the general intelligence of the people living in the twentieth century. Also, the concentration on the children living with disabilities is evident as many countries show care to them. Governments are establishing schools for those children, and education is becoming compulsory. The number of illiterate people has decreased while the number of people joining secondary schools and tertiary education schemes has increased. This is as a result of schooling is compulsory in most industrialized countries (Wongupparaj, Kumari, & Morris, 2020). The literacy levels have, therefore, decreased within the world’s population. A study carried out in 81 countries to establish the relationship between Intelligence Quotient and schooling, and the intellectual development revealed that the difference was brought by literacy rates, agricultural population percentage, and secondary school.
Also, the education level has changed in families in the past 50 years. This is evidenced by income increment in families, parents improving their education levels, and reducing the number of children per family. Parents have known on the importance of family planning and the importance of giving birth to children whom they are capable of raising. Parents are entitled to create more time and money and invest in education for their children (Williams, 2013). They are also required to have more information regarding their children’s normal development and how to stimulate development. Flynn effect has created awareness for parents to create positive education conditions for their children to develop components of intelligence. Also, parents have gained knowledge on how to raise their disabled children and how to help them grow to gain and develop their intellectual capabilities.
The death penalty has emerged as an implication for the Flynn effect in the legal evaluation in Australia. The Flynn effect’s impact as a result of testing of intellectual disability has led to the development of the death penalty. In the United States, adolescents are the most affected, with their mortality increasing (Weiss et al., 2019). Also, any adult found to have introduced a secret intelligent test to kids in the childhood stage or the early stages of development of children is charged in a court of law under the criminal act.
Also, the Flynn effect has resulted in the assessment and evaluation of the curriculum models in Australia. The learning objectives, curriculum contents, and processes in the curriculum have changed in the past. A case study on the curriculum of undergraduate nurses showed changes in how the curriculum has changed, elevating new methods of learning, including benchmarking on other institutions, providing evidence in research, knowing and understanding the nursing concepts, and then applying the knowledge to real-life and experience (Truscott, & Frank, 2001). The old methods of learning in class and going to work are being improved. This has been done to cope and accommodate the changes in the Intelligence Quotient, which has improved in the past and also stimulate the development of the intellectual potential of the students.
From the above context, the Flynn effect implies the observed rise in standardized test scores over time. It is majorly concerned with the rise of the Intelligence Quotient of people from generation after generation. Despite different scholars disagreeing with James Flynn about the positive Flynn effect, James gets support from different researchers. Some scholars argue that the Intelligence Quotient of man remains constant, while others argue a reverse Flynn effect in human beings. In his research, James Flynn establishes that three gains lead to an improvement in Intelligence Quotient; education, societal changes, and better nutrition. Other factors include development in technology and changes in bioenvironmental condition, which stimulate learning and cognitive development.