One of the greatest debates in social sciences is the relation between structure and agency. In other words, when talking about social change, the question is how much power does an individual hold and how much is she / he influenced by society? A simplistic approach, of course. But it does help assemble a basic analytical structure when you look at events and news. IQ tests are popular for a while now and researchers are attempting to assess animal intelligence too. Genetics might determine school results, according to another study on twins. Twins have consisted an attraction for genetics researchers particularly because they can offer the best scientific subjects to test the genetics hypothesis versus the environment one.
Genetics might determine school results on reading and mathematics
A team of more than 20 researchers published a study concerning the influence of genetics on reading and mathematics. They studied 1500 pairs of twins to find an answer for what determines these two abilities more, genetics or environment. While identical twins share their DNA 100 percent, fraternal twins only share around 50 percent. The researchers asked the twins to complete math and verbal tests. What they found is that the twins have similar results, whether the results are good or not so good. They drew the conclusion that genetic factors contribute to these two basic school abilities in more than 50 percent. Twin studies abound in social psychological experiments. But what is even more interesting is that through a complementary analysis the researchers found that strangers displaying close academic results share a genetic resemblance.
If children have good results at reading activities, they will have similar results at mathematics. Finding ‘genes for reading’ as Robert Plomin, a psychologist at Kings College London and participant researcher at the study proposes, is silly. Psychometricians risk falling in easy categorizations.
Mark Nathan Cohen argued in a chapter on IQ tests in a book on race and intelligence that “the things Americans test are demonstrably so arbitrary and observable patterns of thought in other cultures are so varied […] that g [note: general intelligence] cannot possibly be anything other than an arbitrary amalgam of things we choose to test. […] At best the tests measure the degree to which one is prepared to function in one’s culture” (‘Race and Intelligence. Separating Science from Myth’ 2002:201)
Plomin believes that there are a lot of things needing change in educational politics and he points the Finnish example as a good case of an education system adaptable to every child’s needs. To obtain results similar to the ones in Finland, we should first be more careful when connecting genetic to culturally assembled institutions. Genetics might determine school results, according to the researchers, but taking things out of a more complex cultural and economic context does not lead to a comprehensive explanation.