‘Extra year in education boosts IQ for rest of life’
An extra year in school can increase your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) by up to five points – and the effects will be with you for the rest of your life, according to a new study.
Researchers claim the latest findings are the clearest evidence yet that education raises intelligence, calling the change ‘small but noticeable’.
It also disproves the common myth that intelligence is unchangeable after birth.
The increase in intelligence was recorded across all aspects of mental ability, with reasoning, factual knowledge, and memory all improved the longer someone spent in education.
The study published in the journal Psychological Science was conducted by the University of Edinburgh and the University of Texas, United States.
Researchers from the universities examined a total of 42 data sets from 28 previous studies, resulting in information on some 615,812 individuals.
The data showed a clear link between an individual’s final test score, and the amount of time spent in education.
According to the study, the average improvement to a person’s IQ after spending an extra year in education was 3.4 IQ points.
The average IQ score is around 100, with Mensa accepting people with a minimum IQ of 130 and anyone over 140 widely-considered to be a ‘genius’.
Dr. Stuart Ritchie, of the University of Edinburgh, said: “The most surprising finding was how long-lasting the effects seemed to be.
“Something about that educational boost seemed to be beneficial right across the lifespan.
“It argues against a common perception that IQ is somehow unchangeable.”
The researchers had to compensate for a person’s natural level of intelligence.
Had this not have been done, the result may have shown that the most intelligent people stay in school longer, which follows that they will have a higher IQ.
The first study of the three studies was able to account for this using data on participants over a long period of time, including intelligence measurements obtained before and after they completed their education.
What is iq? IQ stands for Intelligence Quotient and it is used to measure mental ability.
The abbreviation ‘IQ’ was first coined by psychologist William Stern to describe the German term Intelligenzquotient.
Historically, IQ is a score achieved by dividing a person’s mental age, obtained with an intelligence test, by their age.
The resulting fraction is then multiplied by 100 to obtain an IQ score.
An IQ of 100 has long been considered the median score.
Because of the way the test results are scaled, a person with an IQ of 60 is not half as intelligent as someone with an IQ of 120.
The arrangement of IQ scores also means that results are ‘normally distributed’, meaning just as many people score either side of the average.
For example, the same amount of people score 70 as people who score 130.
Although the accuracy of intelligence tests is somewhat disputed, they are still widely used.
The second study took advantage of ‘natural experiments’ in the form of policy changes, which require that children stay in education for longer.
For example, in the 1960s a Norwegian policy came into force which increased the basic education requirement by two years.
This move triggered a hike in IQ scores across the country, the researchers claim.
Finally, the third study looked at children of similar ages, but who fell on either side of the annual cut-off due to their birth dates.
The researchers note that each type of study has strengths and weaknesses, and the findings raise several new questions that future research will have to address.
“A crucial next step will be to uncover the mechanisms of these educational effects on intelligence in order to inform educational policy and practice,” they said.
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