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25- Septiembre- 2013



Angela Oswalt, MSW, edited by Mark Dombeck, PhD

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Angela Oswalt, MSW, edited by Mark Dombeck, Ph.D.

Much intelligence research has focused on trying to explain the causes of

intelligence; where intelligence comes from. At various points in history, particular
psychological theorists have suggested that intelligence is primarily an inherited
quality (e.g., something formed by biological and genetic forces, and inherited from
one's parents) or, instead, primarily something influenced by children's environment
(e.g., something influenced by school and parental teachings and by exposure to life
experiences and opportunities). Both of these views have merit, as it turns out.
Currently, most researchers agree that a combination of both genetic and
environmental factors contribute to the development of intelligence.
Genetic Influences on Intelligence
One of the ways that researchers can determine whether intelligence is influenced by
genetics is to generate "heritability estimates." Heritability estimates are a
mathematical way of representing the extent to which genetics contribute to individual
differences in observed behavior such as IQ test scores. Heritability is represented as
a numerical proportion that ranges from 0.0 (a case where genes do not contribute at
all to differences) to 1.0 (a case where genes explain all of the observed differences
between IQ scores). A heritability estimate of .40 would suggest that on average;
about 40% of observable differences on a particular trait are caused by genetics.
Often, heritability estimates are generated based on studies of identical twins who
share identical genetics but who have experienced different environments and
opportunities while growing up.
Based on such studies of identical twins' IQ scores, researchers have determined that
the heritability of intelligence is approximately .50. This heritability value suggests that

about half of intelligence is more or less determined or caused by a child's genetics

and biology. The other half is determined by environmental factors which include
children's socioeconomic status (a measure of family wealth and social status), parent
and caregiver attitudes towards education (whether they believe it is important),
cultural and educational opportunities, and other similar social factors.
Cultural Influences on Intelligence
IQ scores are influenced by specific cultural experiences, such as exposure to certain
language customs and knowledge from an early age. For instance, many low-income
African American children are raised with a language style which may be
characterized by an emphasis on storytelling and the recounting of personal
experiences (e.g., "Did you hear about what Mrs. Smith did this morning?"). Many
questions appear in this conversational style, but a fair portion of the time, they
function more as rhetorical devices designed to engage a conversation rather than as
specific requests for precise information. This style of questioning encourages social
bonding but it is not particularly good preparation for traditional intelligence tests
which typically demand that children generate a specific single correct response to an
examiner's questions. Being used to thinking and responding differently in their day to
day lives versus what is demanded of them during testing; such children can end up
scoring lower on IQ tests than equally-intelligent peers simply because the testing
situation itself does not well fit their life preparation.
In contrast, caregivers in middle income (and above) white and Asian families tend to
spend a fair amount of time asking children specific knowledge-based questions that
have a single "correct" answer (e.g., What is this word? What shape is a stop sign?).

These knowledge-based questions are more like the questions that are used in
traditional IQ tests. Therefore, these children may feel more comfortable dealing
these types of tasks, and therefore score maximally well (in relationship to their actual
intelligence) on such tests.
Socioeconomic Influences on Intelligence
Family socioeconomic status (SES) also affects children's development of
intelligence. Specifically, research suggests that children from low SES families tend
to have lower IQ scores.
Socioeconomic status has to do with a family's economic and social hierarchy status.
Higher SES families have higher family incomes and greater access to necessary and
optional but desirable resources than lower SES families. Correspondingly, it is much
easier for higher SES families to provide for children's needs in terms of food,
clothing, shelter and health care, and to offer them an enriched array of opportunities
such as education and daycare than for lower SES families.
Children who feel safe, well-fed, and rested, who are healthy, and whose parents
value their intellectual development will be better able and motivated to concentrate
their energy and attention on mental tasks and tests. In contrast, children who
constantly feel afraid for their safety; who are hungry, sick, or chronically exhausted;
and whose parents are overwhelmed and not focused on children's education will
simply not have as much energy or motivation to spend pursuing their cognitive
development. As well, parents who are not struggling to simply meet children's basic
needs have the luxury of energy and time they can spend reading to children, playing
games with them, and becoming involved in their homework and school related

activities. This extra time and attention builds children's intellectual skills and also
communicates to children that education is highly valued and important, giving them
an advantage over children whose parents cannot provide such attention.
Educational Influences on Intelligence
Researchers have also found that the amount of time children spend in school is
highly related to IQ scores. The more time children spend in school, the higher their
IQ scores tend to be. The likely explanation for this finding is that teachers train
children to answer factual questions, solve problems, and learn specific bodies of
knowledge which then prepares them to answer questions appearing in IQ tests
which have been formulated along similar lines and which draw upon the same
bodies of knowledge taught in school. It follows that children who have more frequent
exposure to educational environments are more prepared to respond to IQ style
questions in a testing situation, and thus tend to do better on IQ tests than children
who do not have as much of this sort of preparation. Therefore, children who miss out
on educational opportunities because they're often absent or truant from school, or
because they change schools frequently can end up disadvantaged when taking an
IQ test.


According to this article, intelligence maybe affected on different terms, more

importantly on their environment and genetics. I think that not necessarily, just for the
reason that there are many children that dont have access to education at all, yet
they present a very high intelligence level. On the other hand, many children that do
have the opportunity to education, and their parents worry about their future, dont
have a high level of intelligence. Yeah, maybe genetics plays a big role in this, but as
seen in some countries, where education is not reachable to all children, and their
parents generically dont show a high intelligence level, and children do may be for
other reasons.
Theres many reason to intelligence that at this moment we havent discovered,
since all the time these intelligence classifications are always changing, so we cant
just classify every childrens intelligence level, just by the way he/she lives, or the
education he/she gets at home, theyre many different reason to a persons
intelligence that it cant just fit into simple classifications.