Handbook of the Psychology of Aging



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Secular Cohort Trends in

Cognition
For several decades there has been an intensive debate on the nature and directionality of cohort differences in cognition (
Alwin, 2009
). Cross-sectional data from several Western societies indicate the occurrence of “ massive IQ gains on the order of 5 to 25 points in a single generation ” ( Flynn, 1987, p. 171; 1999 ). The
Flynn effect
” has been documented primarily for post-World War II cohorts born in the s. This massive cohort gain has been documented most clearly for fluid abilities, rather than crystallized abilities. Relatively little rationale has been offered for why fluid rather than crystallized abilities would show these positive trends for post-World War II cohorts.




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