In a new research abstract presented at the 2016 meeting of the International Society for Intelligence Research, researchers Joseph Lee Rodgers and Patrick O’Keefe of Vanderbilt University investigate potential new causes of the Flynn effect, or the strangely consistent rise in IQ scores over the decades. Their new analysis and interpretation suggests that parents may be getting better over time at providing an “executive function” to their developing children.
Rodgers and O’Keefe write: “We posit that many parents use varying mechanisms to assist their children in their intellectual development – e.g., parents optimize nutrition, school and community programs, vacation time, test-taking training, etc, to support their children’s cognitive growth. Such parents provide an executive function to their developing children, and parents likely become more and more proficient in performing this function over time. Reasons to expect this increasing proficiency are proposed and examined.”
Perhaps this is true especially for intellectual outliers or the right tail of the distribution. Martha Putallaz, Matthew Makel, and I systematically examined intellectual outliers using Duke TIP data across the last few decades and concluded that the Flynn effect occurs for the “gifted” along with the general distribution, suggesting the whole curve is rising. Researchers have posited many factors influencing the rise in IQ scores over time, however, one factor that may especially influence gifted students may be that parents are getting increasingly more proficient in providing an “executive function” to their developing children, perhaps from a very young age.