School & District Management

Are Teenagers Becoming More Logical? Yeah, Right

By Debra Viadero — May 13, 2009 1 min read
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A Swedish study posted yesterday on Science Daily suggests that teenagers are more logical than they used to be. (Obviously, those Swedish researchers haven’t visited my house.)

The new results come from tests in verbal skills, spatial ability, and inductive logic that researchers have been administering to large numbers of 13-year-olds in Sweden every five years since the 1960s. The tests show that today’s 13-year-olds score much higher in logic and spatial ability than their counterparts of 40 or so years ago did. Not so for verbal ability, possibly because the tests include words that are rarely used in contemporary Swedish society.

Researchers say their findings suggest that students ought to be doing better in math, which is a bit of a surprise to Swedes. They, like many other countries, have been concerned about their nation’s slipping status on international math tests.

Contrary to stereotype, the latest round of tests also shows that girls now outpace boys on the spatial tests. That’s a complete flip-flop from the pattern of results in the 1960s. You can read more about the study results here.

I don’t know if the same trends apply in this country. But researchers have for years been documenting a worldwide rise in IQ scores among young people, a pattern that has come to be known as the “Flynn effect” after the researcher who first noted it. So it all fits.

I guess I’ll have to keep that in mind the next time my almost-13-year-old leaves her clarinet behind at school for the umpteenth time. Of course, remembering such things is more characteristic of what some experts call “practical intelligence,” and that’s another story altogether.

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Inside School Research blog.