The Nature and Nurture of High IQ

Notes by Howard Gardner

It’s long been known that as one gets older, the genetic contribution to measured intelligence (IQ) is higher. Put concretely, the IQ of the 70 year old is more likely to resemble the IQ of his/her parents and grandparents, than the IQ of the 10 or 20 year old. But this study adds a new page to this chapter. It turns out that individuals with higher IQ actually have a longer period in which non –genetic (environmental) factors are significant, than those with lower IQs. As such, the study raises an intriguing possibility: Anything that we can do to raise IQ in young persons is likely to increase the length of time in which the effects of the environment (e.g. peers, mentors, experiences) are significant. And since we know that measured IQ has gone up a huge amount in the past century (see the Flynn effect), these results are a very hopeful sign.

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