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The Strange Results of The Reverse Flynn Effect

Max Ching

Volume 4 Issue 5

June 26, 2024

The Strange Results of The Reverse Flynn Effect

Image Provided by Max Ching

As society and technology have evolved with multiple inventions of life-changing machines like the radio, telephone, airplane, and many more, a theory stating that humans become smarter every decade has developed. This theory is called The Flynn Effect. According to The Debrief, James Flynn, who discovered a 13-point increase in an IQ test between 1932 and 1978, developed this theory in 1984; this theory has been fully accurate for the time being. However, researchers have claimed that in recent years, the average IQ has dropped. This is called, “The Reverse Flynn Effect.”  

As previously stated, The Reverse Flynn Effect is the exact opposite of The Flynn Effect, where IQ test scores drop instead of increase over decades. According to The Debrief, this effect has presented itself in Norway, Denmark, Australia, Britain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, and the United States. So, why is this happening, and is there any way to prevent this from happening any further? There are many reasons why this trend is occurring. According to The Debrief, some researchers have suggested that education quality, poor nutrition, and a lack of confidence in test-taking among children contribute to the effect. Also, children may no longer respond well to IQ tests. This does not mean that humans have become mentally less intelligent in the past decades, but instead, maybe their ability to take exams has worsened. Even researchers have supported this claim. 

Doctor Elizabeth Dworak, a research Assistant Professor of Medical Social Sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, states, “It doesn’t mean their mental ability is lower or higher; it’s just a difference in scores that are favoring older or newer samples.” She has also said, “It could just be that they’re getting worse at taking tests or specifically worse at taking these kinds of tests.” So, this also proves that children are not actually becoming less intelligent, it is just that they may have a problem with taking exams. 

So, now that we have discovered why this event is occurring, we will now cover how to prevent this event from evolving even further. Well, according to The Debrief, environmental changes have been attributed to this effect; increased air pollution and lead exposure have been associated with drops in IQ levels. To prevent this effect from progressing, we could decrease air pollution by taking better care of plants, using less energy, limiting backyard and city fires, and using fewer fossil fuels. Also, not all mental skills are decreasing for children. Researchers have found that IQ scores related to spatial reasoning, or the ability to visualize 3D objects and draw conclusions based on limited information, have increased over time (The Debrief). 

So, in conclusion, we have learned that the Reverse Flynn Effect is the exact opposite of the Flynn Effect, where it is evident that IQ scores have decreased over the past few decades. However, we have also learned that this could be because children just are not comfortable with taking tests. Also, we have learned that IQ scores relating to spatial reasoning, and the ability to draw conclusions and visualize objects has increased. So, although some might think that society is soon to be doomed due to the apparent dwindling IQ scores, this is not the case, as this effect can be reversed. 


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