-- Your ten key questions answered --

1. What can be measured by psychologists?

Important aspects of personality and mental ability have proved to be measurable by twentieth-century psychologists. In particular, general intelligence (the 'g' factor) can be assessed reliably and fairly by IQ-type tests. Temperament (e. g. emotionality / anxiety) and attitudes (e. g. liberalism versus social conservatism) can also be adequately assessed for research purposes; but assessing deeper and more personal motivations and the direction of motivation -- e.g. *who* is loved or hated -- is still problematic. Sex, aggression (especially xenophobia) and maternal drive (especially after a woman has given birth) are undoubtedly three great instinctive forces -- far more basic and important than behaviourist psychologists appreciated when they tried to attribute most human behaviour to learning. However, psychologists have not yet solved the problem of assessing people's 'real motivations' or the directions they take with much accuracy -- especially perhaps because some motivations and emotional reactions become 'repressed' in the course of development. {For more, see: 'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 1; Quotes II, III, VIII, XVIII.}

2. What is intelligence?

Intelligence as measured by IQ-type tests is the ability to take things in quickly -- especially to take in the information conveyed by verbal, numerical and graphic symbols. As the American philosopher, Santayana, once put it: 'intelligence is quickness in seeing things the way they are.' Differences in 'g' account for about half of all the measurable differences between people in mental abilities -- though, at higher 'g' levels, some people develop more specialized abilities especially strongly. All forms of reasoning are particularly dependent on intelligence; but, so long as there are books or TV in the home, vocabulary will also reflect intelligence well -- until intelligence itself declines in old age. During development, 'fluid' intelligence 'crystallizes' into such achievements as vocabulary which themselves can remain intact despite brain damage, drugs or drug abuse (especially alcohol) that depress fluid intelligence itself. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 2; Quotes VIII, IX.}

3. How do psychological differences between people come about?

Recent years have seen important new studies of separated identical twins (in Minnesota and Sweden) and of adoptive children (Texas, Virginia, France). The similarities between identical twins and the dissimilarities between unrelated co-adoptees in these studies cannot be attributed to 'selective placement' -- the main criticism of such studies in the past. The main measurable psychological differences between people are shown by these modern studies to have origins that are substantially genetic. This is especially true for 'g': some 75% of the differences between people in 'g' are broadly genetic in origin -- though only some 40% of parents' biological advantages (or disadvantages) in 'g' are passed on genetically to their children. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 3; Quotes V, X.} Further support for the involvement of biological factors in intelligence comes from IQ's linkage to myopia and nose length, and from several recent studies finding IQ to correlate at around .40 with in vivo measures of brain size and activity ('average evoked cortical potential').

4. Isn't the environment important too?

Environmental differences in childhood are important, but not in the way that has usually been envisaged by twentieth-century social scientists. In particular, differences in social class of origin (or in degree of social advantage versus disadvantage) account for very few of the psychological differences between adults. The 'g' factor itself is actually the biggest exception to this general rule: differences in parental social class account environmentally for about 10% of measured differences between adults in 'g.' For other psychological variables, differences that occur *within* families are much more important. Some of these 'within-family' environmental features are *imposed* on children, notably the child's birth order position. Others are *selected* in response to a child's individual nature, as when a child who already enjoys music seeks to be given a violin, or when parents respond to children's apparent natures by supplying a violin to one child rather than another. Final variance between adults reflects such complexities, as also the 'interaction' between variables: e. g. a concert violinist will normally have enjoyed *both* 'genes for musical ability' (including for persistence with practice) *and* a propitious environment. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 3; Quotes V, X, XVI, XXIII.}

5. Do people's psychological differences really matter very much?

Individual differences on psychological dimensions are important to adult outcomes. For example, people who are high in emotionality / anxiety do better in the arts, while people who are lower do better in the uniformed services. General intelligence is the best predictor of all-round educational attainment, response to vocational training, and success in a wide range of occupations (especially those jobs not making big demands on physical strength or dexterity). By about age 45, differences between employees in income are due one third to luck, one third to intelligence differences, and one third to other factors (conscientiousness, machiavellianism, manual skill, etc.). Low 'g' is also substantially associated in research data from the recent past with criminality, unemployment, out-of-wedlock births and welfare dependency; and these associations hold even when allowance has been made for subjects' present or previously experienced levels of poverty and social disadvantage. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 4; Quotes XI, XXIX, XXX.}

6. Do intelligence and personality influence personal relationships?

Intelligence, attitudes and interests are also important to 'who likes whom', and to 'who marries whom.' In friendship and marriage, similarity in 'g', 'liberalism versus conservatism', and sports, hobbies and travel preferences is understandably preferred by partners and makes for longer-lasting relationships. By contrast, measures of temperament furnish little guide to relationships -- presumably because such 'complementarity' can be a basis for admiration or nurturance, or allow a pair to bring a wider range of special skills to problems that they need to solve. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. IV; Quotes XI, XIV.} Strikingly, identical twins seldome find themselves competing for the same sexual / romantic partner -- at least, little more than would be expected from the similarities of their IQ's alone. Evidently, love derives from the relationship that has been experienced and built as much as from the intrinsic psychological qualities of either partner. [It is in this area of endeavour that 'constructivist' theorists in psychology would be wise to concentrate their efforts.]

7. Are there deep-seated racial differences on psychological variables?

There are important and measurable psychological differences between different racial and ethnic groups. Notoriously, for example, Jewish people excel on IQ-type tests and the English-speaking peoples are low in 'emotionality / anxiety.' The world's three main racial groups (East Asians [Mongoloids], Blacks [Negroids] and Whites [Caucasoids -- including the peoples of the Indian sub-continent]) differ in law-abidingness, scientific achievement, athleticism and the restrictiveness of their sexual mores.

The IQ-type difference between Blacks and Whites in the USA has been of particular interest. It has been extensively researched since 1914 and has proved impossible to explain largely in terms of Black poverty or White prejudice. (Children in affluent Black homes still lag White children by some 10-12 points in IQ; and Jewish and Asian families have, over the years, suffered prejudice from Whites without any depressing effect at all on their average IQ levels. Deaf children typically grow up in a greatly impoverished environment and are often labelled by others as 'stupid', yet their IQ's -- when tested non-verbally -- are roughly normal.) Hence the Black-White IQ difference seems very likely to be of genetic origin -- arising perhaps because Whites (like Asians) evolved on the Eurasian land-mass where the requirements of hunting, crop-planting and the making of clothes and buildings acted as selection pressures for higher 'g.' Asians in particular, as rice-growing peoples (dependent on co-operation between neighbours to keep water channels open), tended to develop elaborate and long-lasting social hierarchies. These hierarchies (still today requiring some seventeen degrees of personal deference in Japan) probably required intelligence for mastery of their many social and linguistic niceties, and also a high level of conformity. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chaps. 1 & IV; Quotes XXIV.}

8. Do political views express personality?

Political parties and religious organizations provide packages of compromises between different extremes of temperament, personality and what is valued. Successful socialist parties tend to offer a mixture of authoritarian and humanitarian ingredients -- traditionally stressing the key equalizing role of the state in ordering and even owning the means of production, yet also that the state's first task should be to understand and assist the poor and deviant (especially at the expense of the privileged). Modern mainstream parties of the right (Christian Democrats in Europe, Republicans in the USA) are more concerned to blend individual liberty (especially in economic matters) with traditional moral values (notably concerning sex and the family).

At its best, the Left brings together kindly extraverts with conscientious radical theoreticians; by contrast, at its best the Right brings together thrusting hedonists with people who are gentle but straight-laced. Thus mainstream political parties each attract a wide range of personality types -- so it often seems they revolve more around party splits than around beating the external opposition. {Quotes XXV.} Both the Left and the Right offer ways of reconciling intelligently many valuable personal motivations and propensities. The participation of citizens in political discussion and activity is thus itself an important goal, as the Ancient Greeks believed.

9. How can today's state education be improved?

Education has not been a success story in the West in recent years. Almost certainly, the key to improvement lies in detecting, anticipating and catering for real and lasting individual differences -- as parents often try to do for their children, and as individuals do for themselves when given the chance. Where egalitarian educators decline to respect IQ differences between children, parents and children themselves should at least be free to select the chronological age group with which the child is educated. Research shows that allowing brighter children to forge ahead, if they wish, in 'fast track learning', makes for greater contentment among their duller peers -- who often feel a sense of failure when made to be taught constantly together with brighter children; and grade advancement would spare brighter children the 'dumbing down' of education that has deprived them of the ability to realize their potential and left the largely unstreamed secondary school children of Britain behind those of the Philippines in 1997 (according to the British Labour Party's Secretary of State for Education). To provide tailored responses to the different needs and abilities of different children is plainly indicated by psychological research. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. IV; Quotes XX, XXVII, XXVIII.}

10. How can the human psychological lot be improved for the future?

Few of the psychological therapies of the twentieth century have enjoyed any great effectiveness. Certainly, drugs that often control symptoms which they cannot cure have mercifully allowed the closure of many of the 'lunatic asylums' of the past. Unfortunately, new problems have arisen from this psychiatric liberation. Mental hospitals of the past had locked, single-sex wards and largely prevented births to people who were unlikely to make good parents (either genetically or environmentally).

In the longer-term future, it should become possible to offer genetic engineering (including a change in the germ line) to many sufferers from mental illness and retardation. However, for the present, for those who desire serious improvement in the human condition, it will be important to persuade people of low IQ either to limit their family sizes or to strive for a high-IQ spouse, perhaps via polygamy, for the sake of the next generation. There would also very likely be eugenic by-products from allowing homosexual marriages -- for homosexual couples would certainly seek the highest-quality donors of sperm or ova. However, for better or worse, tolerance of polygamous and homosexual marriage is barely on the agenda in most Western countries. Perhaps out of sheer inertia, most people seem to think that there can only be one type of marriage contract -- the one with which they are familiar under Christianity.

There is one arrangement that would be accidentally eugenic while attractive to most shades of modern political opinion for its own sake. This would be to make parents responsible for the full costs of their children (including the criminal-justice costs of arrest, trial, compensation to victims and incarceration) until adulthood. Parents are currently being increasingly required by nation-states to pay for the tertiary education of their children; and most Western societies are planning to transfer geriatric nursing costs and perhaps much more to individuals. Most people will meet such anticipated costs by some kind of advance insurance policy -- just as they handle the liabilities they may incur via their ownership of motor vehicles. It would seem natural to extend such insurance arrangements to cover the costs of special education and criminal justice for parents' adolescent children. Since people with high-risk lifestyles, repeated criminal convictions and manifest psychopathology would be more expensive to insure (whether because of the genes or the environments with which they would supply their children), a broadly eugenic effect could be expected.

Eugenics needs to be pursued by those who favour it with intelligence and circumspection. The fences must be kept well mended that demarcate eugenic practice from the euthanasia and demon-driven extermination of political, religious or racial grounds that came to be preferred by the Nazis. However, eugenic outcomes would surely be widely acceptable as by-products of people assuming responsibility for their own futures (whether as individuals or via the mutual assurance societies that many Western countries have begun to encourage). It is to the discovery and encouragement of such 'eugenic by-products' that thought should now be given -- especially while the intelligent women of Western countries continue to produce so few children. {'The 'g' Factor' Summary, Chap. 3, Notes 6 and 7; Quotes XX.}


The above is a summary of my position as a differential psychologist. The suggested follow-up reading is available on the Net at <http://www.cycad.com/cgi-bin/Brand/> -- where a Summary of my 'controversial' book 'The 'g' Factor' can be found. [The book itself was withdrawn from publication after six weeks on UK bookshop shelves. The 'publisher', Wiley (Chichester and New York) decided that views such as those above infringed 1990's canons of political correctness.]

-- Chris Brand, MA (Oxon.), Fellow of the Galton Institute.

Edinburgh. April, 1997.


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