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Unread July 28th, 2006, 11:37 AM
Margaret McGhee Margaret McGhee is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 271
Default New Twin Studies: Social Learning Takes Another Leap Forward

The title of this thread is a bit of a spoof. I would not encourage others to think of this debate as some kind of contest, as often occurs when ideology is the motive.

Here's a link to NYT article about heredity, social environment and IQ - more twin studies. It refers to studies that show that while IQ (potential) may be as much as 75% heritable, that mainly holds for twins raised similarly in middle or upper class environments. Since adoption is often (almost entirely in some countries) from lower class families into middle and upper class families it has been difficult to document the effect of the opposite trajectory. This study does that. It shows consistent 10 to 12 point IQ differences when identical twins are early adopted into families of opposite affluence.

After the Bell Curve

As for causes, the authors speculate that poverty reduces children's exposure to vocabulary, for example. While Im sure that's a valid observation, I would speculate that the psychological forces involved have more to do with identity beliefs.

I'd say that a child adopts an evolving view of their own self in terms of the kinds of intelligence (and skills) they believe themselves capable of and how much of that they want to express. They get this from their family and friends, relatives, etc. and their social circumstances. I'd propose that once a child adopts that self image (identity belief) it would be difficult to keep them from fulfilling it.

Kids spend thousands of hours in their lives and tremendous personal energy fulfilling these images, which shows the strength of identity emotions to affect behavior. Video games, skateboarding, dance, even the complex romantic and social relationships of childhood - require a lot of learning and mental energy that kids have always been willing to apply, as long as they first see themselves as potentially proficient in those areas.

I suspect the adoption into higher or lower class families simply causes the child to adopt a different set of identity beliefs regarding their own intelligence and capabilities (doctor or gang-banger for example) - and they then go about fulfilling that identity.

I'll bet everyone participating in this forum has experienced at least some negative social pressure (and corresponding angst) in high school from appearing to be too brainy. That was your identity beliefs being challenged. Some kids yield to those challenges. Some never have a chance to develop identity beliefs that would be subject to such challenges.

Identity beliefs, as I have stated many times now, are an especially strong source for the emotions that affect our behavior choices. A child that believes herself to be a budding scentist will make many behavior choices such as how much effort to put into studying and homework, who to hang out with, whether she sees her teachers as obstacles or allies for her own identity fulfillment, etc. - that will have a huge effect on that childs' achievement when integrated over their early development years, and apparently their IQ as well, according to this study.

This theory could offer a better way to approach early childhood learning. I predict that it may be more effective in terms of breaking the poverty cycle to convince children from lower income families (and their familes, friends and relatives) that they could become great scientists, for example, and to enlist their support and enthusiasm in that view of their future, than it would be to simply fight poverty directly. This would not be easy. It would require a completely different approach to education from the current warehousing paradigm that exists in many low income schools. Some great teachers in low income districts are already aware of this - but this view seldom survives the reality of low-income school distrct bureaucracy.

I am suggesting that creating an environrment that helps children adopt a self-image of intellectual success at an early age will do amazing things for that child's success in life - and for the expression of their maximum IQ potential.

However, without a national health care system to provide basic health care for all members of low income families much of this effort would probably be wasted.


Last edited by Margaret McGhee; July 28th, 2006 at 02:21 PM.
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