It Runs in the Family: Testing for Longitudinal Family Flynn Effects




Wänström, Linda
O’Keefe, Patrick
Clouston, Sean A.P.
Mann, Frank D.
Muniz-Terrera, Graciela
Voll, Stacey
Zhang, Yun
Hofer, Scott M.
Rodgers, Joseph L.

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Journal of Intelligence


The Flynn effect refers to increases over time in measured (particularly fluid) intelligence of approximately 3 IQ points per decade. We define the Flynn effect at the family level, using longitudinal data and two new family-level cohort definitions. Multilevel growth curve analyses of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1979 data showed that children in families with later-born mothers had higher average PIAT math scores, and lower average reading comprehension scores and growth, in young and middle childhood. Children in families where the first child was born later had higher average PIAT math, reading recognition, and reading comprehension scores, as well as larger developmental growth. The latter family-level Flynn effects were of higher magnitudes than the usual individual-level Flynn effect found in previous studies. Our results, showing family level-intercept and slope Flynn effects for both maternal birthyear and first child birthyear, have implications for research aiming to explain the Flynn effect.



family Flynn effect, IQ, intelligence, NLSY, multilevel growth curve models


Wänström, L., O’Keefe, P., Clouston, S., Mann, F. C., Muñiz‐Terrera, G., Voll, S., Zhang, Y., Hofer, S. M., & Rodgers, J. L. (2023). It runs in the family: testing for longitudinal family Flynn effects. Journal of Intelligence, 11(3), 50.