We finally have confirmation that people are actually getting dumber. At least in Western countries, according to one study.
European scientists published their research analyzing records from 1889 to 2004. They concluded that the average IQ of people living in Western nations dropped by an astounding 14.1 points in just little over a century, with an average drop of 1.16 points per decade.
“These findings strongly indicate that with respect to general intelligence the Victorians were substantially cleverer than modern Western populations,” the study noted.
The researchers used visual response times recorded in Western studies over the course of that century plus. They determined the faster a person reacts, the smarter he or she likely is.
“Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence and are considered elementary measures of cognition,” researchers Michael A. Woodleya of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Jan te Nijenhuisc of the University of Amsterdam and Raegan Murphy of the University College Cork in Ireland wrote.
This all begs the question: why has IQ dropped so radically in such a relatively short period of time?
One theory is that it could be a byproduct of modern reproduction habits. A separate study showed that women of higher intelligence are having fewer children, causing an imbalance of women of lower intelligence to be the primary drivers of current population growth.
Some experts have concluded that this can and does affect the average IQ of a population.