Sunday, April 10, 2016

Causes of International Differences in Cognitive Ability Tests

 2016 Mar 23;7:399. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00399. eCollection 2016.

Survey of Expert Opinion on Intelligence: Causes of International Differences in Cognitive Ability Tests.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychology, Chemnitz University of Technology Chemnitz, Germany.
  • 2Department of Psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio San Antonio, TX, USA.


Following Snyderman and Rothman (1987, 1988), we surveyed expert opinions on the current state of intelligence research. This report examines expert opinions on causes of international differences in student assessment and psychometric IQ test results. Experts were surveyed about the importance of culture, genes, education (quantity and quality), wealth, health, geography, climate, politics, modernization, sampling error, test knowledge, discrimination, test bias, and migration. The importance of these factors was evaluated for diverse countries, regions, and groups including Finland, East Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, Southern Europe, the Arabian-Muslim world, Latin America, Israel, Jews in the West, Roma (gypsies), and Muslim immigrants. Education was rated by N = 71 experts as the most important cause of international ability differences. Genes were rated as the second most relevant factor but also had the highest variability in ratings. Culture, health, wealth, modernization, and politics were the next most important factors, whereas other factors such as geography, climate, test bias, and sampling error were less important. The paper concludes with a discussion of limitations of the survey (e.g., response rates and validity of expert opinions).

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