IQ and the Flynn Affect

IQ and the Flynn Affect


Professor James Flynn is a New Zealand researcher who is known for studying intelligence.  The Flynn Affect refers to, “the substantial and long-sustained increase in intelligence test scores measured in many parts of the world from roughly 1930 to the present day. When intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are initially standardized using a sample of test-takers, by convention the average of the test results is set to 100 and their standard deviation is set to 15 or 16 IQ points. When IQ tests are revised, they are again standardized using a new sample of test-takers, usually born more recently than the first. Again, the average result is set to 100. However, when the new test subjects take the older tests, in almost every case their average scores are significantly above 100.”

There is a debate about whether IQ scores are improving without a corresponding rise in intelligence. There is even conflicting reports that IQ scores are dropping. If they are actually rising, some speculate that there are a number of contributing factors including: education, technology, nutrition, and removal of toxins from the environment.

While countries have made gains of up to 25 points in intelligence, there may be difficulty making comparisons due to testing measures. Some tests are based on fluid intelligence, while others are based on crystalized intelligence.  For explanations about these intelligence tests, check out: The Flynn Affect

David Shenk, author of the article The Truth About IQ explained, “IQ tests measure current academic abilities — not any sort of fixed, innate intelligence. More specifically, the best-known IQ battery, “Stanford-Binet 5,” measures Fluid Reasoning, Knowledge, Quantitative Reasoning, Visual-Spatial Processing, and Working Memory. Collectively, these skills are known as “symbolic logic.” Among other things, IQ tests do not measure creativity; they do not measure “practical intelligence” (otherwise known as “street smarts”); and they do not measure what some psychologists call “emotional intelligence.”

Flynn’s most recent research had some important findings for women.  In the ABC News article Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for the First Time, author Carrie Gann explained, “James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.”

To find out more information about factors that affect IQ, check out the following articles:

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Multi-Tasking and Time Management: Are We Really Attention-Switching?


Short of sleeping while ironing, I am constantly doing more than one thing at a time. After giving a speech to a local career group, a man from the audience came up to me and said that “there is no such thing as multi-tasking.”   This is an interesting thing to debate.  This topic became popular a few years ago when scientists were doing a lot of studies on multi-tasking. 

Paul M. Jones claims that the many things we call multi-tasking are actually attention-switching.  According to Jones, “You cannot perform two or more non-trivial tasks at the same time; at best, you pay attention to one and mostly ignore the other, then you switch your attention to the other and dismiss the first one temporarily, and then you switch your attention back to the first again. This is far less effective than completing the first task, then moving on to the second task, because of the time and mental effort it takes to switch between tasks.” 

Some of what people are referring to when they say science has proven that multi-tasking is a myth is due to the results of several studies.  One of those studies was completed by Neuroscientist, Daniel Weissman,  who studied subjects’ brains as they performed different tasks.  For more information on these brain studies, check out NPR’S report by clicking here

I’ve read some of the literature.  Perhaps the wording multi-tasking is the problem. I’m happy to use the term attention-switching. However, for me, if I waited until I completed one thing to start something else, I would be missing a lot of opportunities to fill in some gaps.  I often have several programs open on my computer.  As I am working in one program, waiting for the page to refresh or for something to calculate on screen, I can switch to another program and be working on something else.  If I simply sat and waited for my computer to finish thinking, I’d be doing a lot of staring at my computer’s hourglass.  Saying that multi-tasking is a myth and calling this act attention-switching is fine.  However, I do not agree, at least for me, that tasks must be completed in entirety before moving onto something else. 

In a job where I “dialed for dollars”, I would type my sales call notes as I spoke to my customers over the phone.  This helped me to not forget the most important parts of the conversation.  It also allowed me to have at least an hour more phone productivity time as compared to other employees that waited until they got off the phone to write their notes. 

Whether you want to refer to doing more than one thing at a time as multi-tasking or attention-switching, there is a lot of wasted time out there that I believe more people should be looking for in order to become more efficient.  If you have time management issues, I would suggest looking for things that you can do simultaneously as in my example of the call notes.  Some things can be combined to make your day more productive.