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July 17, 2012

In developed world, women now outperform men on IQ tests

Daily Briefing

    A New Zealand expert on intelligence testing has found that women in the developed world now score higher than men on tests assessing their Intelligence Quotient (IQ).

    Generally speaking, modern IQ tests establish "average" intelligence at an IQ of 100 and set the standard deviation at 15. As such, 95% of the population will fall between 70 and 130 on the tests (two standard deviations from the mean).

    When IQ tests were first introduced about 100 years ago, women scored as much as five points lower than men. However, that gap has been narrowing.

    To assess current differences in women and men's IQs, expert James Flynn collected standard IQ data (using the Raven test) from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Estonia, and Argentina. In each country, he assessed the IQs of 500 men and 500 women between the ages of 15 and 18.

    Although Flynn identified no difference in the scores of Australian men and women, he found that women outperformed men in New Zealand, Estonia, and Argentina.

    Overall, Flynn notes that, over the past century, "the IQ scores of both men and women have risen but women's have risen faster." He attributes the increase and shift to modernity. "The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ," he says, noting that the "improvement is more marked for women than for men because they were disadvantaged in the past."

    Flynn will publish his full findings on IQ and gender differences in an upcoming book (United Press International, 7/16; Walton, Forbes, 7/16; Cooke, Telegraph, 7/15; Gann, "Medical Unit," ABC News, 7/15).

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