Individual & Group Differences in Human Abilities

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
Intelligence is affected via individual and group factors. This lesson looks at intelligence as a construct that is shaped by individual factors such as diet and peers, it also examines group factors such as race and ethnicity.

Where Does Intelligence Come From?

What is the basis of intelligence? Where does it come from? Is it a product of parents (and all your ancestors) or does it more to do with environment? The answers to these questions are murky. Although a great deal of research has been done, scientists still do not know all of the answers. However, they have made some exciting discoveries. Research has progressed to the point that scientists now understand more about how individual and group influences affect and individual's ability with regard to intelligence.

What are Individual and Group Influences?

A myriad of factors influence intelligence; some of which are due to the groups to which the individual belongs and others they are subject to as a discrete individual. Group factors can relate to qualities within the group, but can also be caused by the environment within which the group operates. Individual differences in intelligence can relate to a group the individual belongs to, but can also relate to something that effects only that person. Intelligence is a complicated issue.

How do Individual Influences Affect Intelligence?

Individual differences in intelligence can come from sources that at first seem innocuous. Unfortunately, factors that seem unrelated to intelligence can have a great effect.

  • Diet: the brain needs a well-balanced set of nutrients to operate at peak efficiency. Unfortunately, not every person is able to acquire these nutrients. If the brain is undernourished for a length of time, intelligence is affected negatively. This speaks to the need for proper nutrition and a clean source of drinking water.
  • Peers: Peer influences have been found to have an effect on how teenagers process information, but it has little effect on adults. It seems that when peers are present, individuals decision-making is affected to a negative degree. Teens take more chances and are less likely to make intelligent decisions when peers are around.
  • Family: How much does the family group value intelligence? Did they foster learning when the individual was young? These questions have been found to greatly influence an individual's intelligence. When a child has the advantage of parents who read to him or her, is involved in their education and encourages activities that build intelligence, the individual will score better on intelligence measures.

How do Group Characteristics Influence Intelligence?

The group to which a person belongs can be described as a race, a nationality, a culture, an ethnicity, a community. All have some effect on an individual's intelligence whether large or small.

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