Research Shows IQ Unrelated To Family Size; Birth Order Unrelated To IQ

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Political Misapplication Of IQ Data

In the past, some authors and scientists used skewed findings of The Bell Curve to denigrate African Americans by using its data to label them and all persons of color as "slow", "less intelligent", and several other slurs that proved in accurate. Politically, a portion of the general public readily accepted these slurs to reinforce their bigotry and their sense of superiority.

Since the bell-curve intelligence plot of human IQs has been shown not to reinforce the slurs applied to racial minorities, a residue of hangers-on insist on accepting the inaccuracies as truth.

Other study findings and the body of research literature targeting other aspects of human intelligence are not so much incorrect as they are becoming outdated. and thus, inapplicable. They are becoming less correct, because of the changes that have occurred and are continuing to develop in the human nuclear and extended family since the 1980s.

This (Birth Order theory) is a pop psych thesis that’s sold a lot of books and filled a lot of talk show time, and many have assumed that it’s solid science. But according to the results of the largest study ever conducted on birth order and personality, it’s all much ado about nothing.

— David DiSalvo, Forbes; about Damian et.al. study

Changes Among Generations X, Y and Z

By the time we reach the 2000s in our examination of the generations from the Lost Generation to Generation Z, we see that the family looks significantly different on average than it did in the ideal of the 1950s and early 1960s: mother, father, brother, sister, cat, and dog. The ideal was seen in grocery shopping ads, insurance commercials, and various memes of the era.

Add the LGBTQ population into the definitions of the modern family, and that family is alien to folks that hold fast to the earlier ideal and those people and families seem alien to many modern families as well. The family today has many definitions and in children's cartoons, it is called "the herd" and shows diversity of animal species as a proxy for diverse humanity. Further, a herd may comprise just two people or a person and a pet.

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Political Misapplication Of IQ Score

Since the turn of the 21st century, after the successes of the Clinton Era's Welfare to Work programs that removed thousands of individuals from American public assistance rolls into gainful employment, some interest groups are still unhappy with the number of people of color, people of lower income, and refugees in the USA and wish to reduce their number.

IQ labeling is one method of targeting individuals for elimination.

Blue Plaque- World's First IQ Test, Haslingden Health Centre

Why was prize money given to the highest IQ Score?
Why was prize money given to the highest IQ Score? | Source

Sponsor Of IQ Testing Was A Businessman

Sir William Mather (1838 – 1920) was a British mechanical engineer and textile manufacturer, and Liberal politician who served in the House of Commons. As a company owner, he reduced the work day to eight hours for his employees and was most interested in education.

Related Historic Roots Of IQ Labeling

The wish for reduced numbers in the target groups seems akin to the wish behind the staging of the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh Potato Famines that eliminated from the UK certain populations that the Crown and nobility deemed slow, less intelligence, inarticulate, drunk, shiftless, and worthless. I know this from familial experience --

Personal And Familial Experience

In the early 1800s my father's family in the UK were British and resided in England. Seeking a better economic life, a large portion moved to - off all places - Ireland and Scotland, but quickly sailed to America when they they saw the Potato Famines gearing up to sell potatoes abroad clear the lands of people in favor of sheep and such.

Unfortunately, the emigres brought with them a stereotypical hate of the Irish and Catholics that lasted until the late 20th century.

Today's Undercurrents Of Labeling And Discrimination

Currently, a few hold-out groups use Birth Order and IQ/Family-Size predictions politically to convince the public of the inherent evil of reproducing too often and of having more than one or two children per couple (or singleton).

The smallest group among the few mentioned wishes for 0 Population Growth among the "unworthies" - no reproduction at all, with a wish to have everyone who is or will be receiving public assistance cash benefits, SNAP food assistance, and/or Medicaid surgically sterilized.

As a child in 1965, when the national Public Assistance system and Medicaid were instituted under the Great Society of President Lyndon Johnson, I saw Ohio legislators propose the enforced sterilizations mentioned in the paragraph above. The legislation died in committee, because it would be too hard to enforce and likely unconstitutional.

Families have changed compositionally, but are still of various sizes.
Families have changed compositionally, but are still of various sizes. | Source

Debunking The Incorrect Results Of Birth Order And Family Size Studies Of The Past

Previously held beliefs about Birth Order and IQ related to Family Size were debunked beginning in 2000, particularly in the following long study and follow-on:

"Resolving the debate over birth order, family size, and intelligence." Rodgers, Joseph Lee; Cleveland, H. Harrington; van den Oord, Edwin; Rowe, David C. American Psychologist, Vol 55(6), Jun 2000; American Psychological Association, 2014; Joseph Lee Rodgers, 2015.

The material points out serious flaws in the studies whose findings presented and reinforced the beliefs previously held related to Birth Order and IQ/Family-Size. The absolute effect size of some of these studies was found by the Rodgers group to be only 0.01 and 0.02, where 100.00 means total relatedness and 0.00 means no relation. The significance of those small numbers is "0.00" or no relation found.

Other troubling elements were discovered as well and are available in the journal article online or in your local university library.

Final Results

  • "It appears that although low-IQ parents have been making large families, large families do not make low-IQ children in modern U.S. society. The apparent relation between birth order and intelligence has been a methodological illusion."

A Scientific Amen

In 2015, the largest study into Birth Order was conducted and reinforces the Rodgers findings:

"The associations of birth order with personality and intelligence in a representative sample (377,000) of U.S. high school students." Damian, Rodica Ioana and Roberts, Brent W. Journal of Research in Personality. Elsevier; October 2015.

Important Findings:

  • The average absolute association (not significance score) between birth order and personality was .02 (negligible or none)
  • The average absolute association between birth order and intelligence was .04 (negligible or none)
  • Controls were age, sex, sibship size, socioeconomic status, and family structure/size.
  • The effects did not differ across different social categories.

"It’s tempting to credit and blame a child’s personality traits, characteristics, and fate on birth order. The reality however is so much more complex; each child’s character and fate are based on biology and environment and encompass hundreds of thousands choices in and out of his control."

Birth order probably should not influence your parenting because it’s not meaningfully related to your kid’s personality or IQ.

— Scientist Rodica Damian
Inaccuracies Corrected In Past Research
1. Families having more than two children, or many children, no longer indicates low parental IQ Scores.
2. The children in larger families indicated in #1 above no longer are destined to have low IQ Scores.
2. Birth Order is no longer (was perhaps never) linked to IQ Score.

It appears that although low-IQ parents have been making large families, large families do not make low-IQ children in modern U.S. society. The apparent relation between birth order and intelligence has been a methodological illusion.

— Rodgers, et.al.

Damian et.al. Findings

>>It has been tempting to credit or blame child and adult personality traits, characteristics, and fate on birth order.

>>Rather, each child’s personality and success or lack of it, are based on biology and environment and encompass hundreds of thousands choices in and out of his/her control.

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Additional Information And The Future

Prior to the 20th century, personalities and intelligence were determined by feeling the bumps on the head of a human subject, client, patient, or accused law breaker; and by examining unrelated physical attributes like beady eyes, jaw size, high or low ("ape-like") foreheads, and physical stature depicted as endomorph, mesomorph, and ectomorph.

Former Knowledge

Print made by Dr. E. Clark in the late 1800s.
Print made by Dr. E. Clark in the late 1800s. | Source

Skin color and other demographics were added to the mix for diagnosis, also inaccurate, even though the Bible was used to uphold them.However, most of these all seemed to become passe - the last one, hard-fought against by the Reverend K.C. Price over months of televised presentations from his church in Los Angeles, California in the 1980s and 1990s.

I hope that today's public will not be seduced into accepting previous, inaccurate, or false study results presented in an attempt by a few individuals to perform politically motivated social engineering in hopes of reducing demographic groups through sterilization or genocide.

The few may also have as motivation 1) failing to keep up with scientific information and/or 2) bolstering their own feelings of worth by denigrating others, but I cannot say with certainty.

I can say with certainty that hate groups do exist in America and in the world at large and that I hope to see them disintegrate.

I cannot accept the statement that the highest IQ individuals in America or elsewhere are all of one particular faith or lack of same, income range, political party, educational attainment, birth order, marriage status, and family size -- Or that a high IQ Score is a mountaintop acheivement that leads to further success. The evidence is against it all.

Entertainment: Briant Hall, otherwise known as Dr. Quackenbusch the phrenologist, examined heads of those visiting the California Trail Interpretive Center while lying on a bed of nails.
Entertainment: Briant Hall, otherwise known as Dr. Quackenbusch the phrenologist, examined heads of those visiting the California Trail Interpretive Center while lying on a bed of nails. | Source

© 2015 Patty Inglish

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Comments 6 comments

mckbirdbks profile image

mckbirdbks 13 months ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

Hello Patty. Social engineering? I have read about personality differences found in a child's place in a family, but not anything about an IQ distribution. I have come to believe that most of what has been 'discovered' by research is just actually conjecture. We as the race of mankind, think we know 'stuff' but it so often falls apart as we progress.

Mostly we do things (still) individually and collectively because we are scared.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 13 months ago from North America Author

Hi Mike -

I successfully fought the people that used supposed "low IQ" among children and parents of large families; and outdated birth order attributes for purposes of discrimination against my students in GED, Work Placement, summer school, and Adult Education from 1994 - 2005 and am hearing a resurgence of suggestions for enforced sterilization right now.

I'll wager that the MidWest (my area) and South are more likely the sites of this phenomenon than is the West Coast or the East Coast and it is usually not covered by the news media. Much goes on without public knowledge in many fields and the public becomes shocked to learn about it.

If humankind mostly does things out of fear, then humanity is worthless, but we are not worthless. Every individual is important and deserves fair treatment based on truth and accuracy. I do my part ot make it so.


Kylyssa profile image

Kylyssa 13 months ago from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

I've seen a lot of old wives tale type junk about birth order determining personality, but I have to say I'd never heard the myths that birth order affected IQ. I have met lots of the "poor people all have low IQs so they shouldn't be allowed to breed" type of bigot and this "sounds" like something they'd be on board with.

It isn't a good idea to have a lot of children unless you have enough wealth to be certain to care for them until they are adults and beyond if they have special needs, but high IQ people can make that mistake just as easily as low IQ people. The combination of the message that you aren't fully adult and aren't holding up your part of your obligation to humanity unless you reproduce plus natural instincts to breed must be so strong it overrules all logic.

I've met very, very intelligent people who think it's necessary for every person to "replace" themselves with at least one child to avoid planetary human population loss, even though the math is incredibly simple. It's as if their emotions create a blind spot that covers up their ability to understand math completely, but only as it applies to human reproduction, and intelligence is no special defense against the phenomenon.

It makes no logical sense for birth order to have any uniform affect on personality or intelligence because those things are determined by genes, health, and environment, not dates on a calendar or the order in which they come out of a uterus.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 13 months ago from North America Author

@Kylyssa -

Thank you for your views on this topic and I agree that parents should plan to be be able to financially produce and raise a particular number of children before doing so. I hope most Americans agree that no one should be sterilized because any child she produces is "doomed" to low IQ because of skin color, ethnicity, or region of birth (targets are urban areas, Appalachia and others).

This is similar to the tragedy of Rose Marie Kennedy receiving an inappropriate and botched lobotomy and parents in the 1950s - 1960s forcing young daughters to have female circumcisions for fear that the girls would be "over sexed" in their teen lives. All these things are human rights violations. To suggest them, including forced sterilization based on a guessed and inaccurate IQ Score are unconscionable.

Tragedies happen to make parenting nearly impossible, though - like the Somali widows I worked with who had 14-18 children before their husbands were killed in war and they became refugees in America, but culture put too great a load on these women to bare so many children, in my opinion, but my opinion won't change the culture. Still, the children were very bright, learned English quickly, did well in school, and the older ones did well in the workforce after graduation as long as I knew them.

I think families in America that are having extremely large numbers of children in order to produce more voters for a political party or adherents to one religious faith are wrong-headed in these goals. From my medical experience, twenty children are too many no matter what finances are available - for instance, one great aunt of mine had a child a year for over a decade and bled out one evening, because she had never properly healed. The kids lived shorter than average lifespans as well. Still, the whole family possessed above average IQs and successful careers at work and school.


MsDora profile image

MsDora 13 months ago from The Caribbean

It is frightening to see how much wrong information has been taught as fact throughout the years. Imagine how many people were discarded as unable to learn, when all they needed was a good teacher with genuine interest in their academic welfare.

Thank you, Patty for another very important research and presentation. I hope with you that "today's public will not be seduced into accepting previous, inaccurate, or false study results . . . ."


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 13 months ago from North America Author

@MsDora - It is always good to see your comments here or on others' Hubs.

If we can teach people to look at the actual meaning of the statistics in studies (like the 0.01 mentioned, really meaning nothing) and how numbers can be manipulated for secondary gain, then I think quality of life will be better all around.

The misapplication of the data really burns me to a crisp in anger when it hurts people. Thanks for posting!

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