After hearing resident Grace Lazovik’s authoritative talk, those attending the recent Women’s Group luncheon in the Private Dining Room have a new understanding our IQs. Dr. Lazovik received her doctorate in psychology at the University of Washington, taught quantitative psychometrics for 25 years, and holds an emeritus professorship at the University of Pittsburgh.
From the creation of the first intelligence test in the early 20th century, it was believed that intelligence was inherited through our genes at birth and couldn’t be changed. The acceptance of this understanding led to the implication that some groups are inherently superior and some inferior, Dr. Lazovik said. This view reinforced the Eugenics movement and led to laws permitting sterilization on the basis of low IQ.
Fortunately, researchers in cognitive science and genetics have over recent years proven that IQs are not fixed at birth or at any age. Scientific studies have found that IQs have increased about 3 points every 10 years. A specialized program for high school students has shown an amazing increase in IQs of 21 points on average. Conversely, testing of children in rural, isolated communities showed a decline because of their cultural isolation. Proof that scores can be changed comes from findings that IQs have increased by those people who develop and practice intellectual skills, Dr. Lazovik said.
Geneticists have contributed to a revolutionized understanding of genetic action that can “turn” the gene up or down, on or off. Factors controlling the gene action can include climate, temperature, brain activity, physical activity and disease. Studies have now disproved the idea that there is a specific genetic limit fixed at birth.
Dr. Lazovik said our individual IQs have probably decreased due to memory loss, sensory changes and hearing loss. On the other hand, we can experience an increase because of factors such as our better judgment and decision making. Knowing that what we believed about intelligence is wrong will hopefully inform our opinions on public policy and end the controversy among writers who claim society is stratified by IQ.
Dr. Lazovik’s final words were, “Do not praise your grandchildren for being smart. Praise them for how hard they have worked to do well. The level of IQ they will develop depends on their own efforts in practicing intellectual skills.”
From resident PR Committee member Pat Ballard