Graduation Year

Fall 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Tomoe Kanaya

Reader 2

Gregory Hess

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2011 Abby J. Trimble


Since its discovery in 1984, psychological investigators have continued to explore the Flynn Effect, the phenomenon of consistent and secular IQ gains within industrialized nations approximating 0.3 points per year. The most contentious debate within this field of research surrounds the purported cause of the Effect, and yet the research literature lacks a synthesis of the leading causal theories and the evidence supporting them. The principal hypothesized causal mechanisms – psychometric artifact, educational intervention, environmental changes, nutrition, genetics, gene-environment interaction model, medical improvements, and the multiplicity hypothesis – are reviewed and analyzed within the larger breadth of Flynn Effect scholarly literature. Flynn Effect causal investigation has not yielded any decisive results, and the unproductive postulation of causal theories has recently stagnated, so researchers must accept a necessary shift in the focus of their research toward a more collaborative and holistic understanding of the Effect in order to effectively determine its causes. Extensive social implications of the Effect within the scopes of special education and judicial policy necessitate the expedited revitalization of Flynn Effect research such that contemporary society may be better able to appropriately incorporate the Effect into public policy.