The impact of rapidly lower IQ and its effect on your business
There are increasing concerns about the significant reduction in improved rates of IQ. This is essentially a global phenomenon and has been changing for some time, the situation should now be considered seriously by employers as part of the long-range, and to be frank, the not-so-long term represents a worry too.
Why should organisations be worried? Hopefully, it’s a question substantially apparent to most. But for those who think this isn’t ‘an issue’ or perhaps simply just don’t care, the question is important because a lowering IQ has many impacts on the business world in the long term. But potentially, in the shorter term, for example, reduced cognition means lower productivity, less attentiveness, less reliability, more absenteeism, and a whole host of other knock-on effects.
Reduced buying capacity
The impact on a buying population that is ‘less employable’ translates to lower spending power and less aspirational appetite. Such changes create a race to the bottom (which is largely already here) where quality and value are reduced. The price is the most discerning quotient. On a societal level, health suffers, antisocial activity increases and societal cohesion is weakened, impacting everyone.
Early adopters will enjoy improved brand recognition, and excellent social value can be garnered, especially if action is taken ahead of competitors.
Many questions arise on the validity of an IQ test for how well a person can learn new information, for example. However, that said, the test might do this by teaching the test-taker new information in a simple format, and then seeing how well they retain that information gives insight into ongoing training and development needs.
The existing model has provided a benchmark reference since the end of the second world war. And as such, it remains valuable for consistency. Otherwise, it would be difficult to make ‘like for like comparisons with a new format. In any case, it would be wise not to consider the IQ formula the only discernment of overall capability.
The observed faster-rising rates of intelligence quotient of the growth rate of between 1.5 and 3 IQ points a decade during the 20th century. However, recent research suggests these heady boom days are long gone. The Flynn Effect (substantial and long-sustained increase in test scores) is used to monitor the growth/decline. So named after the work of researcher James Flynn’s work.
An analysis of around 730,000 IQ test results by the Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research in Norway reveals the Flynn effect hit its peak for people born during the 1970s. With significant decline on an ongoing basis since, especially so since 2008 onwards.
There are two measurables and both matter, ‘crystallised intelligence’ is what has been taught and trained in. And ‘fluid intelligence’ is the capability to see new pathways and patterns and use logic in problem-solving. Assuming that their findings are correct. And that such findings globally are commensurate, then the results are impressive and pretty worrying.
“While we have enriched the cognitive environment of children before their teenage years, the cognitive environment of the teenagers has not been enriched.”Ragnar Frisch Centre for Economic Research
So as young people approach employment, the impact of reduced cognition is rapidly becoming alarming regarding:
- Social cohesion
So, what could be causing this decline in IQ?
In the new study, the researchers observed IQ drops occurring within actual families, between brothers and sons, etc. As some have suggested, the effect likely isn’t due to shifting demographic factors alone. Factors like the dysgenic accumulation of disadvantageous genes across areas of society. Instead, lifestyle changes could also be behind these lower IQ findings. Perhaps due to the way, children are educated. Or how they’re brought up and what they spend time doing more and less. Like the types of play they engage in, whether they read books etc.
The combination of a number of challenges, any one of which is serious in its own right and tends to be so enshrined in people’s lives that many are beset by multiple simultaneous factors, especially within well-developed ‘western style’ economies. Some of the key overlapping aspects include long-term, perpetually stressed lifestyles, including work, social, economic, and personal and family (or lack therein) lifestyle circumstances.
Elephant in the room
The impact of dietary habits and poor health choices substantially contribute to all aspects of the mind and body. The lack of regular exercise and healthy outdoor activities coupled with long-term consumption of imbalanced and often excessive consumption of highly processed food combine to impact IQ. Along with a host of other related health consequences. Another ‘elephant in the room’ is the excessive time daily looking at a one-dimensional flat screen, be it for recreation or entertainment, usually all of the above.
The amount of screen time is alarmingly high. Ironically though recent IQ study in Africa was curtailed when it was found that students were wholly unfamiliar with how to use a pencil which is tragic in itself as western civilisation envisages how driverless cars will improve the world. Perhaps we should start with pencils.
The main issue is that the combination of the above aspects and the myriad of other associated impact points on IQ are not being seen as a ‘whole problem’. Moreover, they are not being seen as issues employers should be aware of in the context of current and future teammates. There are what now look like lazy assumptions that only people with lower down socio-economic scale are impacted, but this is not the case. These combined afflictions impact all strata of society and almost all geopolitical boundaries proving that reduced IQ is an equal opportunity reality.
The impact of rapidly lower IQ and its effect on your business
Suppose you are serious about this in your organisation. In that case, the solution is first to identify the current actual and potential impact upon the business, then consider what actions can be undertaken to remedy the situation in both the long and short term. The impact in the broader marketplace is separate and considerably more challenging. We look at markets, competitors, and future-proofing for a living. Perhaps we can help you? Octopus Intelligence has uniquely prepared for the challenges and opportunities we predicted in the current global socio-economic climate in 2014.
Art by Ben White and words by Darrell West