Secular gains in fluid intelligence: evidence
from the Culture-Fair intelligence test

Colom R, Garcia-Lopez O.
Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.
J Biosoc Sci. 2003 Jan;35(1):33-9.


There is no doubt about the reality of the secular increase in cognitive test scores. However, there is disagreement about a key issue: does the observed increase reflect a genuine upward trend in intelligence? Evidence from the Raven test is clear, although there are some doubts about its adequacy as a fine-grained measure of fluid intelligence. Evidence from the so-called 'method of correlated vectors' is much less clear. When a crystallized battery is considered, the results leave little doubt: the increase does not reflect gains in general intelligence. However, when a fluid battery is analysed, the increase does reflect gains in general intelligence. The present study uses one of the best available measures of fluid intelligence (the Culture-Fair intelligence test) to provide new evidence for the secular increase in fluid intelligence, beyond the findings from the Raven test and the method of correlated vectors. A total of 4498 Spanish high school students and high school graduates were tested within a time interval of 20 and 23 years, respectively. The results show that there is a clear upward trend in intelligence. Moreover, students show an average increase equivalent to 6 IQ points, while graduates show an average increase of 4 IQ points. Therefore, more selected people (graduates) show a smaller increase than less selected people (students). Some implications are discussed.

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