A new study from researchers in Europe claims that the average IQ in Western nations dropped by a staggering 14.1 points over the past century.
“We tested the hypothesis that the Victorians were cleverer than modern populations using high-quality instruments, namely measures of simple visual reaction time in a meta-analytic study,” the researchers wrote in the study, which was published online in the journal Intelligence on Thursday. “Simple reaction time measures correlate substantially with measures of general intelligence and are considered elementary measures of cognition.”
The results were measured using data from 1889 to 2004 and were analyzed by Michael A. Woodley of Vrije Universiteit in Brussels, Jan te Nijenhuis of the University of Amsterdam and Raegan Murphy of the University College Cork in Ireland.
So why has there been such a steady drop? As UPI notes, previous research studies have found that women of higher intelligence tend to have fewer children on average, meaning that population growth may be driven by those with a lower IQ. And over time, the abundance of less intelligent offspring would affect the overall IQ average.