THIRTY YEARS OF RESEARCH ON RACE
DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY
J. Philippe Rushton
The University of Western Ontario
Arthur R. Jensen
University of California, Berkeley
The culture-only (0% genetic–100% environmental) and the hereditarian (50%
genetic–50% environmental) models of the causes of mean Black–White differences
in cognitive ability are compared and contrasted across 10 categories of evidence:
the worldwide distribution of test scores, g factor of mental ability, heritability, brain
size and cognitive ability, transracial adoption, racial admixture, regression, related
life-history traits, human origins research, and hypothesized environmental variables. The new evidence reviewed here points to some genetic component in
Black–White differences in mean IQ. The implication for public policy is that the
discrimination model (i.e., Black–White differences in socially valued outcomes
will be equal barring discrimination) must be tempered by a distributional model
(i.e., Black–White outcomes reflect underlying group characteristics).
Section 1: Background
Throughout the history of psychology, no question has been so persistent or
so resistant to resolution as that of the relative roles of nature and nurture in
causing individual and group differences in cognitive ability (Degler, 1991;
Loehlin, Lindzey, & Spuhler, 1975). The scientific debate goes back to the
mid-19th century (e.g., Galton, 1869; Nott & Glidden, 1854). Starting with the
widespread use of standardized mental tests in World War I, average ethnic and
racial group differences were found. Especially vexing has been the cause(s) of
the 15-point Black–White IQ difference in the United States.
In 1969, the Harvard Educational Review published Arthur Jensen’s lengthy
article, “How Much Can We Boost IQ and School Achievement?” Jensen concluded that (a) IQ tests measure socially relevant general ability; (b) individual
differences in IQ have a high heritability, at least for the White populations of the
United States and Europe; (c) compensatory educational programs have proved
generally ineffective in raising the IQs or school achievement of individuals or
groups; (d) because social mobility is linked to ability, social class differences in
IQ probably have an appreciable genetic component; and tentatively, but most
controversially, (e) the mean Black–White group difference in IQ probably has
some genetic component.
Jensen’s (1969) article was covered in Time, Newsweek, Life, U.S. News &
World Report, and New York Times Magazine. His conclusions, the theoretical
issues they raised, and the public policy recommendations that many saw as
stemming directly from them were dubbed “Jensenism,” a term which entered the
J. Philippe Rushton, Department of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, London,
Ontario, Canada; Arthur R. Jensen, School of Education, University of California, Berkeley.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to J. Philippe Rushton, Department
of Psychology, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario N6A 5C2, Canada. E-mail:
Psychology, Public Policy, and Law
2005, Vol. 11, No. 2, 235–294
Copyright 2005 by the American Psychological Association
1076-8971/05/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1076-8922.214.171.124
dictionary. Since 1969, Jensen has continued to publish prolifically on all of these
issues, and increasing numbers of psychometricians and behavioral geneticists
have come to agree with one or more of the tenets of Jensenism (Snyderman &
Rothman, 1987, 1988).
The Bell Curve (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994) presented general readers an
update of the evidence for the hereditarian position along with several policy
recommendations and an original analysis of 11,878 youths (including 3,022
Blacks) from the 12-year National Longitudinal Survey of Youth. It found that
most 17-year-olds with high scores on the Armed Forces Qualification Test,
regardless of ethnic background, went on to occupational success by their late 20s
and early 30s, whereas those with low scores were more inclined to welfare
dependency. The study also found that the average IQ for African Americans was
lower than those for Latino, White, Asian, and Jewish Americans (85, 89, 103,
106, and 113, respectively; Herrnstein & Murray, 1994, pp. 273–278).
Currently, the 1.1 standard deviation difference in average IQ between Blacks
and Whites in the United States is not in itself a matter of empirical dispute. A
meta-analytic review by Roth, Bevier, Bobko, Switzer, and Tyler (2001) showed
it also holds for college and university application tests such as the Scholastic
Aptitude Test (SAT; N 2.4 million) and the Graduate Record Examination
(GRE; N 2.3 million), as well as for tests for job applicants in corporate settings
(N 0.5 million) and in the military (N 0.4 million). Because test scores are
the best predictor of economic success in Western society (Schmidt & Hunter,
1998), these group differences have important societal outcomes (R. A. Gordon,
1997; Gottfredson, 1997).
The question that still remains is whether the cause of group differences in
average IQ is purely social, economic, and cultural or whether genetic factors are
also involved. Following publication of The Bell Curve, the American Psychological Association (APA) established an 11-person Task Force (Neisser et al.,
1996) to evaluate the book’s conclusions. Based on their review of twin and other
kinship studies, the Task Force for the most part agreed with Jensen’s (1969)
Harvard Educational Review article and The Bell Curve, that within the White
population the heritability of IQ is “around .75” (p. 85). As to the cause of the
mean Black–White group difference, however, the Task Force concluded: “There
is certainly no support for a genetic interpretation” (p. 97).
Among the factors contributing to the longstanding lack of resolution of this
important and controversial issue are the difficulty of the subject matter, the
political issues associated with it and the emotions they arouse, and the different
meta-theoretical perspectives of the experimental and correlational methodologies. Cronbach (1957) referred to these conflicting approaches as the two “halves”
of psychology because researchers are predisposed to draw different conclusions
depending on whether they adopt a “manipulations-lead-to-change” or a “correlations-find-stability” paradigm.
Here we review in detail the research that has accumulated since Jensen’s
(1969) article and compare our findings with earlier reviews and evaluations such
as those by Loehlin et al. (1975), P. E. Vernon (1979), Herrnstein and Murray
(1994), the APA Task Force (Neisser et al., 1996), and Nisbett (1998). Facts in
themselves typically do not answer scientific questions. For a question so complex
as the cause of the average Black–White group difference in IQ, no one fact, one
236 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
study, nor indeed any single line of evidence, can hope to be determinative.
Rather, resolving the issue requires examining several independent lines of
evidence to determine if, when taken together, they confirm or refute rival
hypotheses and research programs.
The philosophy of science methodology used here is guided by the view that,
just as in individual studies the principal of aggregation holds that a set of
measurements provides a more reliable indicator than any single measure taken
from the set (Rushton, Brainerd, & Pressley, 1983), so in reviewing multiple lines
of evidence, making strong inferences from a number of contending hypotheses
is more efficacious than considering only one hypothesis at a time (Platt, 1964).
Although strong inference is the method of science, it has, more often than not,
been eschewed in this controversial debate.
The final section of this article addresses the question of what these conclusions imply for policy, specifically for the issues of educational and psychological
testing, health, race relations, and conflicting worldviews about the essence of
human nature. It suggests that the distributional model that takes genetic factors
into account must temper the discrimination model that explains Black–White
differences in socially valued outcomes.
Section 2: The Two Conflicting Research Programs
Here, we review the research on Black–White difference in average IQ
published since Jensen’s (1969) now 36-year-old article. We then apply the
philosophy of science methodologies of Platt (1964), Lakatos (1970, 1978), and
Urbach (1974a, 1974b) to determine if the preponderance of this new evidence
strengthens or weakens Jensen’s (1969) tentative assertion that it is more likely
than not that some part of the cause of the mean Black–White difference is
genetic. The data reviewed have been collated from articles in specialist journals
and a number of scholarly monographs on the nature of intelligence, behavioral
genetics, and social policy issues, as well as recent book-length reviews (Devlin,
Feinberg, Resnick, & Roeder, 1997; Herrnstein & Murray, 1994; Jencks &
Phillips, 1998; Jensen, 1998b; Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002; Rushton, 2000; Sternberg, 2000). While we focus on the mean Black–White difference in IQ because
it is the topic on which most of the research to date has been conducted, studies
of other traits (e.g., reaction times) and other groups (e.g., East Asians) are
included when those data are sufficient and informative.
Some have argued that the cause of Black–White differences in IQ is a pseudo
question because “race” and “IQ” are arbitrary social constructions (Tate &
Audette, 2001). However, we believe these constructs are meaningful because the
empirical findings documented in this article have been confirmed across cultures
and methodologies for decades. The fuzziness of racial definitions does not negate
their utility. To define terms, based on genetic analysis, roughly speaking, Blacks
(Africans, Negroids) are those who have most of their ancestors from sub-Saharan
Africa; Whites (Europeans, Caucasoids) have most of their ancestors from Europe; and East Asians (Orientals, Mongoloids) have most of their ancestors from
Pacific Rim countries (Cavalli-Sforza, 2000; Cavalli-Sforza, Menozzi, & Piazza,
1994; Nei & Roychoudhury, 1993; Risch, Burchard, Ziv, & Tang, 2002). Although he eschewed the term race, Cavalli-Sforza’s (2000, p. 70) maximum
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 237
likelihood tree made on the basis of molecular genetic markers substantially
supports the traditional racial groups classification. Of course, in referring to
population or racial group differences we are discussing averages. Individuals are
individuals, and the three groups overlap substantially on almost all traits and
The hereditarian position originated in the work of Charles Darwin (1859,
1871) and then was elaborated by his cousin Sir Francis Galton (1869, 1883).
Based on research models used in behavioral genetics, this view contends that a
substantial part (say 50%) of both individual and group differences in human
behavioral traits is genetic. It therefore follows that even if all individuals in both
groups were treated identically, average group differences would not disappear,
though they might diminish.
The opposing culture-only position finds no need to posit any genetic causation, stating that if the environments for all individuals could be equalized, the
observed group differences in average IQ would effectively disappear, though this
might be difficult to achieve. This position has been predominant in the social
sciences since the 1930s.
It is essential to keep in mind precisely what the two rival positions do and do
not say—about a 50% genetic–50% environmental etiology for the hereditarian
view versus an effectively 0% genetic–100% environmental etiology for the
culture-only theory. The defining difference is whether any significant part of the
mean Black–White IQ difference is genetic rather than purely cultural or environmental in origin. Hereditarians use the methods of quantitative genetics, and
they can and do seek to identify the environmental components of observed group
differences. Culture-only theorists are skeptical that genetic factors play any
independently effective role in explaining group differences.
Most of those who have taken a strong position in the scientific debate about
race and IQ have done so as either hereditarians or culture-only theorists.
Intermediate positions (e.g., gene– environment interaction) can be operationally
assigned to one or the other of the two positions depending on whether they
predict any significant heritable component to the average group difference in IQ.
For example, if gene– environment interactions make it impossible to disentangle
causality and apportion variance, for pragmatic purposes that view is indistinguishable from the 100% culture-only program because it denies any potency to
the genetic component proposed by hereditarians.
It is also important to define and interpret heritability correctly. Heritability
refers to the genetic contribution to the individual differences (variance) in a
particular group, not to the phenotype of a single individual. Heritability is not a
constant that holds for all groups or in all environments. A heritability of 1.00
means all the observed differences in that group are due to genetic differences and
not at all to their differences in the environment. A heritability of zero (0.00)
means the converse. A heritability of 0.50 means the observed variation is equally
the result of genetic and of environmental differences. The heritability of height
in modern industrial populations, for example, is about 90%, which means that
most of the differences in height among the individuals are due to their genetic
Behavioral Genetics by Plomin, DeFries, McClearn, and McGuffin (2001)
provides a detailed explanation of heritability (see also Jensen, 1973; Miele, 2002,
238 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
for general readers). Heritability estimates are true only for particular populations
at particular times. They can vary in different populations or at different times.
Equalizing environments, for example, produces the counterintuitive result of
increasing heritability because any individual differences that remain must be due
to genetic differences.
The cause of individual differences within groups has no necessary implication for the cause of the average difference between groups. A high heritability
within one group does not mean that the average difference between it and another
group is due to genetic differences, even if the heritability is high in both groups.
However, within-groups evidence does imply the plausibility of the betweengroups differences being due to the same factors, genetic or environmental. If
variations in level of education or nutrition or genes reliably predict individual
variation within Black and within White groups, then it would be reasonable to
consider these variables to explain the differences between Blacks and Whites. Of
course, independent evidence would then be needed to establish any relationship.
Heritability describes what is the genetic contribution to individual differences in a particular population at a particular time, not what could be. If either
the genetic or the environmental influences change (e.g., due to migration, greater
educational opportunity, better nutrition), then the relative impact of genes and
environment will change. Heritability has nothing to say about what should be. If
a trait has a high heritability it does not mean that it cannot be changed.
Environmental change is possible. For example, phenylketunuria (PKU) is a
single-gene disorder that causes mental retardation but that can be prevented by
beginning a diet low in phenylaline early in life. (Note that the only effective
treatment for PKU is aimed directly at the specific chemical factor that causes it.)
The fact that the heritability of IQ is between 0.50 and 0.80 does not mean that
individual differences are fixed and permanent. It does tell us that some individuals are genetically predisposed to be more teachable, more trainable, and more
capable of changing than others, under current conditions (Jensen, 1973; Miele,
Having defined the terms of the debate, we now discuss approaches for
resolving it. Lakatos’s (1970, 1978) analytical methodology classifies research
programs as being either progressive or degenerating. A progressive program not
only explains existing phenomena and theoretical anomalies but also offers novel
predictions, some of which can be tested and then either confirmed or rejected. A
degenerating program merely accommodates existing anomalies by a series of
new, unrelated, ad hoc hypotheses, ignores them, or denies their existence.
The philosopher Peter Urbach (1974a, 1974b) applied this methodology and
concluded that the hereditarian/culture-only IQ debate is really a conflict of
research programs that goes back to their classic proponents—Francis Galton
(1869) for the hereditarians and J. B. Watson (1924) for the environmentalists.
Each has an underlying set of assumptions, termed its hard core, and a heuristic
machinery that generates hypotheses. The hard core of the hereditarian program
is that (a) all individuals possess some level of general mental capacity called
general intelligence that, to some degree, influences all cognitive activity, and (b)
the differences between individuals and between groups in general intelligence
are largely the result of genetic differences. The hard core of the culture-only
program is that (a) there are a number of different learned mental skills or
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 239
intelligences, and (b) any observed differences in cognitive performance are the
result of environmental factors.
Hereditarian heuristics include constructing better tests, developing better
techniques for measuring mental abilities, and discovering biological correlates
(e.g., heritability, inbreeding depression and heterosis, brain size, brain metabolic
rate, brain evoked potentials, brain imaging) of these tests. The process then
involves examining the similarities of the scores among people whose varying
degrees of genetic resemblance can be predicted from Mendelian theory (Fisher,
1918). Culture-only heuristics include searching for the environmental factors that
cause differences in intellectual performance and discovering the bias in existing
tests. If two groups differ in mean IQ, culture-only theorists conjecture either that
the lower scoring group has been exposed to one or more deleterious experience
or been deprived of some beneficial environmental stimuli or that the tests are not
valid measures of their true ability. Compensatory training might be initiated and
the hypothesis confirmed if the groups then obtain more nearly equal scores, or if
less biased tests are developed on which the group differences are reduced but still
predict outside criteria. Of course, these two programs overlap to some degree,
and a given experiment might well combine elements of the heuristics of each.
Reviewed here are new data sets for 10 categories of evidence that have
become available since Jensen’s (1969) article. They include the international
pattern of IQ test scores, more and less g-loaded components of tests, heritability,
brain-size and cognitive-ability relations, transracial adoption, racial admixture,
regression to the mean, the race– behavior matrix, human origins research, and
hypothesized environmental variables. These findings are then used to evaluate
the culture-only and hereditarian models in terms of the methodology proposed by
Lakatos (1970, 1978).
Section 3: Mean Race–IQ Differences: A Global Perspective
The IQ debate became worldwide in scope when it was shown that East
Asians scored higher on IQ tests than did Whites, both within the United States
and in Asia, even though IQ tests were developed for use in the Euro American
culture (Lynn, 1977, 1978, 1982; P. E. Vernon, 1979, 1982). Around the world,
the average IQ for East Asians centers around 106; that for Whites, about 100; and
that for Blacks, about 85 in the United States and 70 in sub-Saharan Africa. Most
of the early research was conducted in the United States, but some was also
performed in Canada and the Caribbean (Eysenck, 1971, 1984; Jensen, 1969,
1973; Osborne & McGurk, 1982; Shuey, 1958, 1966; cf. Flynn, 1980; Kamin,
1974; Lewontin, Rose, & Kamin, 1984). In the United States, 15% to 20% of the
Black IQ distribution exceeds the White median IQ, so many Blacks obtain scores
above the White average. This same order of mean group differences is also found
on “culture-fair” tests and on reaction time tasks. Hundreds of studies on millions
of people have confirmed the three-way racial pattern (Jensen, 1998b; Lynn &
Vanhanen, 2002; Rushton, 2000).
Racial-group differences in IQ appear early. For example, the Black and the
White 3-year-old children in the standardization sample of the Stanford–Binet IV
show a 1 standard deviation mean difference after being matched on gender, birth
order, and maternal education (Peoples, Fagan, & Drotar, 1995). Similarly, the
240 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Black and the White 21⁄2- to 6-year-old children in the U.S. standardization sample
of the Differential Aptitude Scale have a 1 standard deviation mean difference. No
data are available for East Asian children at the youngest ages. On the Differential
Aptitude Battery, by age 6, however, the average IQ of East Asian children is 107,
compared with 103 for White children and 89 for Black children (Lynn, 1996).
The size of the average Black–White difference does not change significantly over
the developmental period from 3 years of age and beyond (see Jensen, 1974,
Serious questions have been raised about the validity of using tests for racial
comparisons. However, because the tests show similar patterns of internal item
consistency and predictive validity for all groups, and because the same differences are found on relatively culture-free tests, many psychometricians have
concluded that the tests are valid measures of racial differences, at least among
people sharing the culture of the authors of the test (Jensen, 1980; Wigdor &
Garner, 1982). This conclusion was endorsed by the APA Task Force’s statement:
“Considered as predictors of future performance, the tests do not seem to be
biased against African Americans” (Neisser et al., 1996, p. 93).
Most disputed is the validity of the low mean IQ scores reported for subSaharan Africans. Lynn’s (1991) review of 11 studies found a mean IQ of 70. A
subsequent review of over two dozen studies by Lynn and Vanhanen (2002) found
an average IQ of 70 for West, Central, East, and Southern Africa. For example,
in Nigeria, Fahrmeier (1975) collected data on 375 children ages 6 to 13 years in
a study of the effects of schooling on cognitive development. The children’s mean
score on the Colored Progressive Matrices was 12 out of 36, which is at the 4th
percentile for 91⁄2-year-olds on U.S. norms, or an IQ equivalent of about 75
(Raven et al., 1990, pp. 97–98). In Ghana, Glewwe and Jacoby (1992) reported a
World Bank study that tested a representative sample of 1,736 individuals ranging
in age from 11 to 20 years old from the entire country. All had completed primary
school; half were attending middle school. Their mean score on the Colored
Progressive Matrices was 19 out of 36, which is below the 1st percentile for
151⁄2-year-olds on U.S. norms, an IQ equivalent of less than 70. In Kenya,
Sternberg et al. (2001) administered the Colored Progressive Matrices to 85
children ages 12 to 15 years old who scored 23.5 out of 36, which is about the 2nd
percentile for 131⁄2-year-olds, an IQ equivalent of 70. In Zimbabwe, Zindi (1994)
reported mean IQs for 204 African 12- to 14-year-olds of 67 on the Wechsler
Intelligence Scale for Children—Revised (WISC–R) and of 72 on the Standard
Progressive Matrices. In South Africa, Owen (1992) found that 1,093 African 12-
to 14-year-old high school students solved 28 out of 60 problems on the Standard
Progressive Matrices, which is around the 10th percentile, or an IQ equivalent of
about 80 (Raven, Raven, & Court, 1998, p. 77). Again in South Africa, Skuy,
Schutte, Fridjhon, and O’Carroll (2001) found mean scores 1 to 2 standard
deviations below U.S. norms on a wide variety of individually administered tests
given to 154 African high school students under optimized conditions.
Black university students in South Africa also show relatively low mean test
scores. Sixty-three undergraduates at the all-Black universities of Fort Hare,
Zululand, the North, and the Medical University of South Africa had a full-scale
IQ of 77 on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale—Revised (Avenant, 1988,
cited in Nell, 2000, pp. 26 –28). In a study at the University of Venda in South
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 241
Africa’s Northern Province by Grieve and Viljoen (2000), 30 students in 4th-year
law and commerce averaged a score of 37 out of 60 on the Standard Progressive
Matrices, equivalent to an IQ of 78 on U.S. norms. A study at South Africa’s
University of the North by Zaaiman, van der Flier, and Thijs (2001) found the
highest scoring African sample to that date—147 first-year mathematics and
science students who scored 52 out of 60 on the Standard Progressive Matrices,
which is equivalent to an IQ of 100. This higher score may reflect the fact that
they were mathematics and science students, specially selected for admission to
the university from a pool of 700 applicants on the basis of a math-science
At the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa,
Rushton, Skuy, and colleagues gave the Raven’s Progressive Matrices in four
separate studies under optimal testing conditions. Rushton and Skuy (2000) found
173 African 1st-year psychology students averaged an IQ equivalent of 84. Skuy
et al. (2002) tested another 70 psychology students who averaged an IQ equivalent
of 83. After receiving training on how to solve Matrices-type items, their mean
score rose to an IQ equivalent of 96. Rushton, Skuy, and Fridjhon (2002, 2003)
gave nearly 200 African 1st-year engineering students both the Standard and the
Advanced version of the Raven’s test and found they averaged an IQ of 97 on the
Standard and 103 on the Advanced, making them the highest scoring African
sample on record. (The White university students in these four studies had IQs
from 105 to 117; East Indian students had intermediate IQs, from 102 to 106.)
Many critics claim that Western-developed IQ tests are not valid for groups
as culturally different as sub-Saharan Africans (e.g., Nell, 2000). The main
evidence to support a claim of external bias would be if the test failed to predict
performance for Africans. Even if tests only underpredicted performance for
Africans compared with non-Africans, it would suggest that their test scores
underestimated their “true” IQ scores. However, a review by Kendall, Verster,
and von Mollendorf (1988) showed that test scores for Africans have about equal
predictive validity as those for non-Africans (e.g., 0.20 to 0.50 for students’
school grades and for employees’ job performance). The review also showed that
many of the factors that influence scores in Africans are the same as those for
Whites (e.g., coming from an urban vs. a rural environment; being a science rather
than an arts student; having had practice on the tests; and the well-documented
curvilinear relationship with age). Similarly, Sternberg et al.’s (2001) study of
Kenyan 12- to 15-year-olds found that IQ scores predicted school grades, with a
mean r .40 (p .001; after controlling for age and socioeconomic status [SES],
r .28, p .01). In Rushton et al.’s (2003) study of African and non-African
engineering students at the University of the Witwatersrand, scores on the
Advanced Progressive Matrices correlated with scores on the Standard Progressive Matrices measured 3 months earlier (.60 for Africans; .70 for non-Africans)
and with end-of-year exam marks measured 3 months later (.34 for Africans; .28
for non-Africans). Figure 1 shows the regression of exam marks on test scores for
these university students.
Although predictive validity is the ultimate pragmatic criterion for absence of
bias, critics also suggest that the items have different meanings for Africans than
they do for Whites or East Indians (Nell, 2000). This hypothesis of internal bias
has been tested. The psychometric studies by Owen (1992) on thousands of high
242 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
school students, and by Rushton and Skuy (2000; Rushton et al., 2002, 2003) on
hundreds of university students, found almost identical item structures in Africans, Whites, and East Indians on the Progressive Matrices. Items found difficult
by one group were difficult for the others; items found easy by one group were
easy for the others (mean rs .90, p .001). The item–total score correlations
for Africans, Whites, and East Indians were also similar, indicating that the items
measured similar psychometric constructs in all three groups. (Section 4 reviews
evidence of the similarity of the g factor in Africans and non-Africans.) The only
reliable example of bias so far discovered in this extensive literature is the rather
obvious internal bias on the Vocabulary components of tests such as the Wechsler
for groups that do not have English as their first language (e.g., Skuy et al., 2001).
Even here, the language factor only accounts for about 0.5 of a standard deviation,
out of the overall 2.0 standard deviation difference, between Africans and Whites.
Could it make a difference that Africans have less experience in solving
problems such as those on the Raven’s, are less testwise, and have less access to
coaching than non-Africans? Raven (2000) showed that students who were
Figure 1. Regression of Raven’s scores on university grades for Africans and
non-Africans. From “Performance on Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices by
African, East Indian, and White Engineering Students,” by J. P. Rushton, M. Skuy,
and P. Fridjhon, 2003, Intelligence, 31, p. 133. Copyright 2003 by Elsevier Science.
Reprinted with permission.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 243
encouraged to engage in complex cognitive tasks increased in self-direction,
understanding, and competence. In South Africa, Skuy and Shmukler (1987)
applied Feuerstein’s (1980) Mediated Learning Experience and raised the Raven
scores of Black high school students. Skuy, Hoffenberg, Visser, and Fridjhon
(1990) found generalized improvements for Africans with what they termed a
facilitative temperament. In an intervention study with 1st-year psychology students at the University of the Witwatersrand, Skuy et al. (2002) increased Raven’s
test scores in both Africans and non-Africans after intervention training. Both
experimental groups improved over the baseline compared with their respective
control groups, with significantly greater improvement for the African group (IQ
score gains of 83 to 97 in Africans; 103 to 107 in non-Africans). The question
remains, however, whether such intervention procedures only increase performance through mastery of subject-specific knowledge or whether they increase
g-like problem-solving ability that generalizes to other tests as well (te Nijenhuis,
Voskuijl, & Schijve, 2001).
Some argue that African students are less interested, more anxious, work less
efficiently, or give up sooner on items they find difficult, perhaps because the
problems have less meaning for them (e.g., Nell, 2000). Four findings argue
against these hypotheses. First, Rushton and Skuy (2000) closely observed the
test-taking behavior of Africans and noted that they worked very diligently,
typically staying longer than Whites to recheck their answers. Second and third,
there are the similar predictive validities and internal consistencies previously
discussed. Finally, there is supporting evidence from reaction-time research.
Reaction time is one of the simplest culture-free cognitive measures. Most
reaction time tasks are so easy that 9- to 12-year-old children can perform them
in less than 1 s. But even on these very simple tests, children with higher IQ scores
perform faster than do children with lower scores, perhaps because reaction time
measures the neurophysiological efficiency of the brain’s capacity to process
information accurately—the same ability measured by intelligence tests (Deary,
2000; Jensen, 1998b). Children are not trained to perform well on reaction time
tasks (as they are on certain paper-and-pencil tests), so the advantage of those with
higher IQ scores on these tasks cannot arise from practice, familiarity, education,
For three reaction time tasks (the simple, choice, and odd-man-out tasks),
individuals with higher IQ scores average faster and less variable reaction times.
For any one task, the correlation between reaction time and IQ normally lies
between .20 and .40. A review of several studies concluded that the six measures
combined (i.e., the average time and the variability for the three reaction time
tasks) produce a multiple correlation of .67 (Deary, 2000). This is about the same
magnitude as the correlation between two conventional intelligence tests of, say,
reasoning ability and vocabulary.
Lynn and his colleagues carried out a series of reaction time studies on over
1,000 nine-year-old East Asian children in Japan and Hong Kong, White children
in Britain and Ireland, and Black children in South Africa (summarized by Lynn
& Vanhannen, 2002, pp. 66 – 67). The Progressive Matrices were given as a
nonverbal test of intelligence, along with the simple, choice, and odd-man-out
tasks. Reaction times and variabilities were measured by computer and hence
were not subject to any human error in recording. For details, see Shigehisa and
244 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Lynn (1991) for Japan; Chan and Lynn (1989) for Hong Kong and Britain; Lynn
(1991) for Ireland; and Lynn and Holmshaw (1990) for South Africa.
The correlations between IQ and reaction times for the five countries are
summarized in Table 1. The East Asian children in Hong Kong and Japan
obtained the highest IQs, followed in descending order by the White children in
Britain and Ireland, and then the Black children in South Africa. The medians for
simple reaction time, choice reaction time, and odd-man-out reaction time follow
the same descending order as the IQs. Because all the tasks take less than 1 s, all
children found them easy. The variabilities in the three reaction time measures for
the three groups follow the same general descending trend.
The same pattern of average scores on these and other reaction time tasks (i.e.,
East Asians faster than Whites faster than Blacks) is found within the United
States. Jensen (1993) and Jensen and Whang (1994) examined the time taken by
over 400 schoolchildren ages 9 to 12 years old in California to retrieve overlearned addition, subtraction, or multiplication of single digit numbers (from 1 to
9) from long-term memory. All of the children had perfect scores on paper-andpencil tests of this knowledge, which was then reassessed using the Math
Verification Test. The response times significantly correlated (negatively) with
Raven Matrices scores, whereas movement times have a near-zero correlation.
The average reaction times for the three racial groups differ significantly (see
Figure 2). They cannot be explained by the groups’ differences in motivation
because the East Asian children averaged a shorter response time but a longer
movement time than did the Black children.
Section 4: The g Factor and Mean Race–IQ Differences
Jensen (1998b) showed that a test’s g loading (g being the general factor of
intelligence) is the best predictor, not just of that test’s correlation with scholastic
and workplace performance, but of heritability coefficients determined from twin
Sample Size, Mean IQ Score, and Reaction Time Measures (in Milliseconds)
From Five Countries, and the Reaction Time Correlations with IQ
Kong Japan Britain Ireland
Africa SD ra
Sample size 118 110 239 317 350 — —
IQ scores 113 110 100 89 67 — —
Simple reaction time 361 348 371 388 398 64 .94*
Choice reaction time 423 433 480 485 489 67 .89*
Odd-man-out reaction time 787 818 898 902 924 187 .96*
Variability of simple reaction time 99 103 90 121 139 32 .83*
Variability of choice reaction time 114 138 110 141 155 30 .73*
Variability of odd-man-out reaction
time 269 298 282 328 332 95 .85*
Note. Data in this table are reconfigured from IQ and the Wealth of Nations (p. 67, Table
6.2), by R. Lynn and T. Vanhanen, 2002, Westport, CT: Praeger. Copyright 2002 by R.
Lynn and T. Vanahanen. Adapted with permission.
a r reliability.
* p .05.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 245
studies, inbreeding depression scores calculated in children of cousin-marriages,
brain evoked potentials, brain pH levels, brain glucose metabolism, as well as
nerve conduction velocity, reaction time, and other physiological factors. These
correlations argue strongly for the heritable and biological, as opposed to the mere
statistical reality of g. Because the mean Black–White group difference in IQ is
more pronounced on high-g-loaded tests than it is on low-g-loaded tests, it suggests
that it is not the result of any idiosyncratic cultural peculiarities of this or that test.
Spearman (1927, p. 379) first proposed the hypothesis that the mean Black–
White group difference in IQ would be “most marked in just those [tests] which
are known to be saturated with g.” Jensen (1980, p. 535) designated it as
“Spearman’s hypothesis” and developed the method of correlated vectors to test
it. This method correlates the standardized Black–White mean differences on a set
of cognitive tests with their respective g loadings, a significant positive correlation
supporting the hypothesis. The rationale is straightforward. If g is the main source
of between- and within-group differences, then there should be a positive relationship between a given test’s g loading and the mean Black–White group
difference on that test: The more g-loaded the test, the greater the Black–White
group difference on that test. A corollary is the prediction that when race (scored
as Blacks 1, Whites 2) is factor analyzed along with scores from a number
of diverse cognitive tests, its highest loading on the resulting correlation matrix
will be with the g factor.
Jensen (1998b, pp. 369 –379) summarized 17 independent data sets of nearly
45,000 Blacks and 245,000 Whites derived from 149 psychometric tests and
found that the g loadings consistently predicted the magnitude of the mean
Figure 2. Mean response times of 10-year-old Black, White, and East Asian
children on the Math Verification Test for Multiplication, Subtraction, and Addition.
Redrawn by A. R. Jensen from data in Jensen (1993; Jensen & Whang, 1994).
Copyright 2002 by A. R. Jensen. Reprinted with permission.
246 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Black–White group difference (r .62, p .05). This was borne out even among
3-year-olds administered eight subtests of the Stanford–Binet in which the rank
correlation between g loadings and the mean Black–White group differences was
.71 (p .05; Peoples et al., 1995). Subsequently, Nyborg and Jensen (2000)
analyzed a unique battery of 19 highly diverse cognitive tests from an archival
data set of 4,462 males who had served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The g factor
was extracted using different methods. Spearman’s hypothesis was confirmed,
with an average correlation of .81 between the race difference on a test and its g
loading. Nyborg and Jensen concluded that Spearman’s original conjecture about
the mean Black–White difference on the g factor “should no longer be regarded
as just an hypothesis but as an empirically established fact” (p. 599). Only one
study to date has examined East Asian–White difference on psychometric tests as
a function of their g loadings; it confirmed the hypothesis for 15 cognitive tests
administered to two generations of Americans of Japanese, Chinese, and European ancestry. In this case, the more g-loaded the test, the greater the mean East
Asian–White group difference favoring East Asians (Nagoshi, Johnson, DeFries,
Wilson, & Vandenberg, 1984).
Studies in Southern Africa have also found the mean Black–White IQ
difference is mainly on g. Lynn and Owen (1994) were the first to test explicitly
Spearman’s hypothesis in sub-Saharan Africa, administering the Junior Aptitude
Test to 1,056 White, 1,063 Indian, and 1,093 Black 16-year-old high school
students in South Africa. They found a 2 standard deviation difference between
the Africans and Whites (yielding an average African IQ of about 70) and a 1
standard deviation difference between the Whites and Indians (yielding an average Indian IQ of 85). They then tested Spearman’s hypothesis and found the
African–White differences correlated .62 (p .05) with the g factor extracted
from the African sample, but only .23 with g extracted from the White sample.
They did not find any White–Indian differences on g.
Jensen (1998b, p. 388) noted some problems with Lynn and Owen’s (1994)
South African study, but their results on Black–White differences have been well
corroborated since then and extended to include East Indians and “Coloreds” (the
term used to refer to the mixed-race population of South Africa). Thus, Rushton
(2001) reanalyzed data on 10 subtests of the WISC–R published on 154 high
school students in South Africa by Skuy et al. (2001) and found African–White
differences were mainly on g. Rushton and Jensen (2003) compared data on the
WISC–R from 204 African 12- to 14-year-olds from Zimbabwe published by
Zindi (1994) with the U.S. normative sample for Whites and found 77% of the
between-groups race variance was attributable to a single source, namely g.
Spearman’s hypothesis has been confirmed in South Africa using test item
analyses as well. Rushton and Skuy (2000) studied 309 university students at the
University of the Witwatersrand and found that the more an individual item from
the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices measured g (estimated by its item–
total correlation), the more it correlated with the standardized African–White
difference on that item. Rushton (2002) analyzed the item data from 4,000 high
school students in South Africa on Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices published by Owen (1992) and found the four-way African–Colored–East Indian–
White differences were all on g. In two studies of engineering students, Rushton
et al. (2002, 2003) found that the more the items from both the Standard and the
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 247
Advanced Progressive Matrices loaded on g, the better they predicted the magnitude of African–East Indian–White differences. The g loadings showed crosscultural generality; those calculated on the East Indian students predicted the
magnitude of the African–White differences.
Spearman’s hypothesis was also confirmed when the g factor was extracted
from 12 reaction time variables given to the 820 nine- to twelve-year-olds. While
all of the children could do the tasks in less than 1 s, the correlations between the
g loadings and the mean Black–White differences on the reaction time tasks range
from .70 to .81 (Jensen, 1993). These results bear out Spearman’s hypothesis even
more strongly than do those from conventional psychometric tests. The hypothesis
that the mean Black–White group difference on these tests reflects a difference in
motivation is again disconfirmed by the fact that although Whites averaged faster
reaction times than Blacks, Blacks averaged faster movement times than Whites.
And again, East Asians typically averaged higher than Whites on the g factor
extracted from their (faster) reaction time measures (Jensen & Whang, 1994).
Spearman’s hypothesis, as demonstrated by the method of correlated vectors,
cannot be a chimera or a methodological artifact, as a few critics have claimed
(e.g., Gould, 1996, p. 350; Scho¨nemann, 1992). In the method of correlated
vectors, the means and standard deviations of the variables cannot have any
mathematical relationship with the factor structure of the correlation matrix
because the means and the variances of all the tests in the factor-analyzed
correlation matrix are totally removed by the Pearson correlations, which convert
all variables to z scores. Therefore, any systematic relationship between factor
loadings and standardized group means (or group mean differences) must be an
empirical fact, not an artifact (Jensen, 1992).
Other claims of artifact are contradicted by Dolan’s (1997) technical commentaries on the method of correlated vectors (Dolan, 1997, 2000). Dolan argued
that the method of correlated vectors is not incorrect but that it lacks specificity;
that is, it does not incorporate tests of alternative models of the factor structure of
group differences or incorporate statistical tests to compare them for goodnessof-fit. In its place, he advocated use of the multigroup confirmatory factor model
for testing Spearman’s hypothesis. Statistical tests of significance are a built-in
feature of this procedure. Dolan and Hamaker (2001) have applied it to two large
published data sets (Jensen & Reynolds, 1982; Naglieri & Jensen, 1987). The
results statistically confirmed the conclusion derived from the method of correlated vectors regarding a “weak form” of Spearman’s hypothesis: Black–White
group differences were predominantly on the g factor, although the groups also
showed differences on some lower order factors (e.g., short-term memory and
spatial ability) independent of g.
Section 5: Gene–Environment Architecture and Mean Black–White
Dozens of twin, adoption, and family studies have confirmed the high heritability of intellectual and behavioral traits, and even reaction time tasks, within
a race (Bouchard, 1996; Bouchard & Loehlin, 2001; Deary, 2000; Plomin et al.,
2001). Most of these estimates have been calculated on White samples. One study
of 543 pairs of identical and 134 pairs of nonidentical 12-year-old Japanese twins
248 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
in Japan reported a substantial heritability of 0.58 for IQ (Lynn & Hattori, 1990).
The hereditarian model views race differences simply as aggregated individual
differences of this sort.
The culture-only model, however, predicts that special factors such as poverty, the history of slavery, and White racism have operated on the Black
population and suppressed natural levels of intelligence and so made heritabilities
in Blacks substantially lower than they are in Whites. In arguing against Galton’s
(1869) hereditarian position, Charles H. Cooley (1897), a founder and first
president of the American Sociological Association, was the first to introduce the
powerful analogy that corn seeds given a normal environment grow plants of full
height whereas seeds given a deprived environment grow plants of stunted height.
According to this view, cultural deprivation, not heredity, is the cause of any
Black–White IQ differences.
It is an empirical question whether heritabilities are the same for Blacks as for
Whites. Loehlin et al. (1975, pp. 114 –116) reviewed the literature to that date and
found that while there was some evidence suggesting a lower heritability of
intelligence for Blacks than for Whites (e.g., Scarr-Salapatek, 1971), a larger body
of evidence suggested equal heritabilities in the two groups. Subsequently, Osborne’s (1980) Georgia Twin Study compared 123 Black and 304 White pairs of
12- to 18-year-old twins drawn from schools in Georgia, Kentucky, and Indiana,
given the Basic Test Battery, along with smaller subsets of twins given the
Primary Mental Abilities test and the Cattell Culture Fair Intelligence test.
Osborne found heritabilities of about 50% for both Blacks and Whites, all
significantly different from zero but not from each other. (The heritabilities of the
Basic, Primary, and Cattell tests were, respectively, for Whites, 0.61, 0.37, and
0.71, and for Blacks, 0.75, 0.42, and 0.19; Osborne, 1980, pp. 68 – 69, 89, 98.)
Another way of answering the question is to compare their psychometric
factor structures of kinship patterns, background variables, and subtest correlations. If there are minority-specific developmental processes arising from cultural
background differences between the races at work, they should be reflected in the
correlations between the background variables and the outcome measures. Rowe
(1994; Rowe, Vazsonyi, & Flannery, 1994, 1995) examined this hypothesis in a
series of studies using structural equation models. One study of six data sources
compared cross-sectional correlational matrices (about 10 10) for a total of
8,528 Whites, 3,392 Blacks, 1,766 Hispanics, and 906 Asians (Rowe et al., 1994).
These matrices contained both independent variables (e.g., home environment,
peer characteristics) and developmental outcomes (e.g., achievement, delinquency). A LISREL goodness-of-fit test found each ethnic group’s covariance
matrix equal to the matrix of the other groups. Not only were the Black and White
matrices nearly identical, but they were as alike as the covariance matrices
computed from random halves within either group. There were no distortions in
the correlations between the background variables and the outcome measures that
suggested any minority-specific developmental factor.
Another study examined longitudinal data on academic achievement (Rowe et
al., 1995). Again, any minority-specific cultural processes affecting achievement
should have produced different covariance structures among ethnic and racial
groups. Correlations were computed between academic achievement and family
environment measures in 565 full-sibling pairs from the National Longitudinal
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 249
Survey of Youth, each tested at ages 6.6 and 9.0 years (White N 296 pairs;
Black N 149 pairs; Hispanic N 120 pairs). Each racial group was treated
separately, yielding three 8 8 correlation matrices, which included age as a
variable. Because LISREL analysis showed the matrices were equal across the
three groups, there was no evidence of any special minority-specific developmental process affecting either base rates in academic achievement or any changes
therein over time.
A nearly identical statistical structure on intellectual variables across ethnic
and racial groups has been reported in large-scale studies of military samples. Ree
and Carretta (1995) examined a nationally representative sample of young Black,
White, and Hispanic men and women who took the Armed Services Vocational
Aptitude Battery (ASVAB; N 9,173). The ASVAB, which is used to select
applicants for all military enlistments and assign them to first jobs, consists of 10
separately scored subtests (General Science, Arithmetic Reasoning, Word Knowledge, Paragraph Comprehension, Numerical Operations, Coding Speed, Auto and
Shop Information, Mathematics Knowledge, Mechanical Comprehension, and
Electronics Information). Despite the especially wide variety of subtests, Ree and
Carretta found the hierarchical factor structure of ASVAB subtest scores was
virtually identical across the three groups. Similarly, Carretta and Ree (1995)
examined the more specialized and diverse Air Force Officer Qualifying Test, a
multiple-aptitude battery that had been given to 269,968 applicants (212,238
Whites, 32,798 Blacks, 12,647 Hispanics, 9,460 Asian Americans, and 2,551
Native Americans). The g factor accounted for the greatest amount of variance in
all groups, and its loadings differed little by ethnicity. Thus, the factor structure
of cognitive ability is nearly identical for Blacks and for Whites, as was found in
the studies by Owen (1992) and Rushton and Skuy (2000; Rushton et al., 2002,
2003) comparing Africans, East Indians, and Whites on the item structures of tests
described in Section 3. There was no “Factor X” specific to race.
Within-race heritabilities have also been calculated using structural equation
modeling. Rowe and Cleveland (1996) estimated the genetic architecture for
Black and White full- and half-siblings from the National Longitudinal Survey of
Youth (106 pairs of Black half-sibs, 53 pairs of White half-sibs; 161 pairs of
Black full-sibs, 314 pairs of White full-sibs). Three Peabody Individual Achievement Tests were used (Mathematics, Reading Comprehension, and Reading
Recognition). The best-fitting model was one in which the sources of the differences between individuals within race and of the differences between racial means
was the same—about 50% genetic and 50% environmental. Similarly, Jensen
(1998b, p. 465) used structural equation modeling to reanalyze a subset of the
Georgia Twin Study (comprising 123 Black and 304 White pairs of 12- to
18-year-old twins). He broke down the phenotypic mean differences into their
genetic and environmental contributions and tested four alternative models: only
genetic factors, only environmental factors, neither genes nor environment, and
genes plus environment. The model of both genetic and environmental factors
best explained the observed Black–White group differences in IQ, whereas both
the genetic-only and the environmental-only explanations were inadequate.
Heritability data are especially informative when the hereditarian and the
culture-only models make opposite predictions. For example, the hereditarian
model predicts race differences will be greater on those subtests that are more
250 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
heritable within races, whereas culture-only theory predicts they will be greater on
subtests that are more culturally malleable (i.e., those with lower heritabilities) on
which races should grow apart as a result of dissimilar experiences. Analyses of
several independent data sets support the genetic hypothesis.
Nichols (1972, cited in Jensen, 1973, pp. 116 –117) was the first to apply
differential heritabilities in the study of racial-group differences. He estimated the
heritability of 13 tests from 543 pairs of 7-year-old siblings, including an equal
number of Blacks and Whites, and found a .67 correlation between the heritability
of a test and the magnitude of the Black–White group difference on that test.
Subsequently, Jensen (1973, pp. 103–119) calculated the environmentality of a
test (defined as the degree to which sibling correlations departed from the pure
genetic expectation of 0.50) in Black and in White children and found it was
inversely related to the magnitude of the Black–White group difference (r
–.70); that is, the more environmentally influenced a test, the less pronounced its
Black–White group difference.
Prompted by Jensen’s approach, Rushton (1989) estimated genetic influence
from the amount of inbreeding depression found on the 11 tests of the WISC.
Inbreeding depression occurs in offspring who receive the same harmful recessive
genes from each of their closely related parents. Rushton found a positive
correlation between inbreeding depression scores calculated from 1,854 cousinmarriages in Japan and the magnitude of the mean Black–White group difference
in the United States on the same 11 Wechsler tests (.48). This contradicts
culture-only theory, which predicts that mean differences between Blacks and
Whites should be greater on those subtests most affected by the environment (i.e.,
those showing the lowest amount of inbreeding depression). We know of no
nongenetic explanation for the relation between inbreeding depression scores
from Japan and mean Black–White group differences in the United States.
Other aspects of the gene– environment architectural matrix also pertain to the
question of mean Black–White group differences. First, it is possible to distinguish between two different types of environmental effects. Shared (also called
common or between-family) environmental effects are due to variables all children
reared in the same family (whether genetically related or adopted) have in
common but that differ between families (e.g., father’s occupation, family cultural
practice, parents’ child-rearing style). Nonshared (also called unique or withinfamily) effects are specific to each child in the same family and therefore differ
within families (e.g., an accident, illness, or chance friendship that happens to one
sibling and not to the other). Twin and adoption studies can be used to measure
the two types of environmental effect (Plomin, DeFries, & Loehlin, 1977; see also
Plomin & Daniels, 1987; Plomin et al., 2001).
Based on within-race data, Figure 3 summarizes the changes with age in the
proportions of the total IQ variance attributable to genetic factors and to the
effects of the shared and the nonshared environment. It is based on an analysis of
6,370 monozygotic and 7,212 dizygotic twin pairs reared together (McGue,
Bouchard, Iacona, & Lykken, 1993). As can be seen, the estimated proportion of
IQ variance associated with shared environmental factors is relatively constant at
approximately 30% for ages up to 20 years but then drops to 0% in adulthood. The
estimated proportion of IQ variance associated with genetic factors increases
throughout development, but especially after 20 years of age.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 251
These results are corroborated by studies of monozygotic twins reared apart
and of other kinships groups (Plomin et al., 2001). Because the variables usually
proposed to explain mean racial-group differences are part of the shared family
environment (such as social class, religious beliefs, cultural practices, father
absence, and parenting styles), and these account for little variance within a race,
they are unlikely to account for the differences between races. Rather, mean
differences between races are primarily due to nonshared family effects, which
include not only genetics but also a range of idiosyncratic environmental events
that, within-families, affect one sibling and not the other (Jensen, 1997).
Hereditarians have also examined the question of whether group differences
occur in shared and in nonshared environmental effects as well as in genetic
effects. For example, Rushton and Osborne (1995) reanalyzed 125 Black and 111
White pairs of 12- to 18-year-old twins from the Georgia Twin Study and
estimated their cranial capacities from head size measures. They found a lower
range of heritabilities for Blacks than for Whites (12% to 31% against 47% to
56%) and a higher range of common environmental (i.e., shared family) effects
for Blacks than for Whites (42% to 46% against 28% to 32%). However, these
percentage differences between Blacks and Whites were not significant, although
all heritabilities within each race were significantly above zero.
Figure 3. Estimated proportions of the total IQ variance attributable to genetic and
environmental (shared and nonshared) effects. Note that only the nonshared (or
within-family) environmental variance remains relatively constant across the entire
age range. From “Behavioral Genetics of Cognitive Ability: A Life-Span Perspective,” by M. McGue, T. J. Bouchard, Jr., W. G. Iacono, and D. T. Lykken, in R.
Plomin and G. E. McClearn (Eds.), Nature, Nurture, and Psychology (p. 64), edited
by R. Plomin and G. E. McClearn, 1993, Washington, DC: American Psychological
Association. Copyright 1993 by the American Psychological Association. Reprinted
252 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Also relevant to the question of the mean Black–White group differences are
the changes in heritability that occur with increases in age (see Plomin et al.,
2001). The average correlation of IQ between full siblings reared together reaches
.49 in adulthood. The correlation in IQ for siblings reared apart as children is .24,
which increases to .49 in adulthood. This shows that siblings grow more similar
to each other as they age. In genetically unrelated people reared together, such as
adopted children, the correlation for IQ is .25 in childhood but decreases to .01 in
adulthood (McGue et al., 1993). This shows, conversely, that unrelated people
reared together grow less similar over time. Between childhood and adulthood the
influence of the shared home environment on IQ decreases, whereas the effect of
genetic similarity increases.
The diminishing or even vanishing effect of differences due to the shared
home environment can best be understood in terms of three components of
gene– environment correlation and the change in their relative importance during
development (Plomin et al., 1977; Plomin et al., 2001). The passive component of
the gene– environment correlation reflects all those things that happen to the
phenotype, independent of its own characteristics. For example, children of
academically oriented parents may inherit genes for academic ability and also be
exposed (through no effort of their own) to stimulating intellectual environments.
The reactive component of gene– environment correlation results from the reaction of others to the expression of genetically based abilities, as when children
with an unusual curiosity about science are given chemistry sets. The active
component of the gene– environment correlation results from children actively
seeking experiences compatible with their genotypes, for example, going to
science fairs rather than sports events or music concerts. From early childhood to
late adolescence the predominant component of the gene– environment covariance
gradually shifts from passive to reactive to active. The child’s enlarging world is
like a cafeteria in which choices become increasingly biased by genetic factors
(Scarr, 1996; Scarr & McCartney, 1983). As individuals mature they seek out and
even create their own experiential environment.
Section 6: Race, Brain Size, and Cognitive Ability
Studies on over 700 participants show that individuals with larger brain
volumes have higher IQ scores. About two dozen studies using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to measure the volume of the human brain have found an
overall correlation with IQ of greater than .40 (Rushton & Ankney, 1996; P. A.
Vernon, Wickett, Bazana, & Stelmack, 2000). The correlation of .40 using MRI
is much higher than the .20 correlation found in earlier research using simple head
size measures, although the .20 correlation is also reliable and significant. Rushton
and Ankney (1996) reviewed 32 studies correlating measures of external head size
with IQ scores or with measures of educational and occupational achievement,
and they found a mean r .20 for people of all ages, both sexes, and various
ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans.
The most likely reason why larger brains are, on average, more intelligent
than smaller brains is that they contain more neurons and synapses, which make
them more efficient. Haier et al. (1995) tested the brain efficiency hypothesis by
using MRI to measure brain volume and glucose metabolic rate to measure
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 253
glucose uptake (an indicator of energy use). They found a correlation of –.58
between glucose metabolic rate and IQ, suggesting that more intelligent individuals have more efficient brains because they use less energy in performing a given
cognitive task. Several other studies supporting the brain-size/efficiency model
were reviewed in Gignac, Vernon, and Wickett (2003). In any individual, however, energy use increases with the increasing complexity of the cognitive task.
Estimates from twin studies indicate that genes contribute from 50% to 90%
of the variance to both cranial capacities based on external head size measures and
to brain volume measured by MRI (Bartley, Jones, & Weinberger, 1997; Pennington et al., 2000; Posthuma et al., 2002; Rushton & Osborne, 1995; Thompson
et al., 2001). Common genetic effects mediate from 50% to 100% of the brainsize/IQ correlation (Pennington et al., 2000; Posthuma et al., 2002). Studies have
also shown that correlations between brain size and IQ also hold true within
families as well as between families (Gignac et al., 2003; Jensen, 1994; Jensen &
Johnson, 1994), which also implies shared genetic effects. However, one study
that examined only sisters failed to find the within-family relation (Schoenemann,
Budinger, Sarich, & Wang, 2000). Families with larger brains overall tend to have
higher IQs and, within a family, the siblings with the larger brains tend to have
higher IQ scores. The within-family finding is of special interest because it
controls for most of the sources of variance that distinguish families, such as
social class, styles of child rearing, and general nutrition, that differ between
Race differences in average brain size are observable at birth. A study by
Rushton (1997) analyzed recorded head circumference measurements and IQ
scores from 50,000 children in the Collaborative Perinatal Project followed from
birth to age 7 (Broman, Nichols, Shaugnessy, & Kennedy, 1987). Using the head
circumference measures to calculate cranial capacity at birth, 4 months, 1 year,
and 7 years, at each of these ages, the Asian American children averaged larger
cranial volumes than did the White children, who averaged larger cranial volumes
than did the Black children. Within each race, cranial capacity correlated with IQ
scores. By age 7, the Asian American children averaged an IQ of 110; the White
children, 102; and the Black children 90. Because the Asian American children
were the shortest in stature and the lightest in weight while the Black children
were the tallest in stature and the heaviest in weight, these average race differences in brain-size/IQ relations were not due to body size.
External head size measurements (length, width, height) also have been used
to estimate cranial capacities in adults. Rushton carried out five studies of large
archival data sets. The first (Rushton, 1991) examined head size measures in 24
international military samples collated by the U.S. National Aeronautics and
Space Administration. After adjusting for the effects of body height, weight, and
surface area, the mean cranial capacity for East Asians was 1,460 cm3 and for
Europeans 1,446 cm3
. The second (Rushton, 1992) demonstrated that even after
adjusting for the effects of body size, sex, and military rank in a stratified random
sample of over 6,000 U.S. Army personnel, the average cranial capacity of East
Asians, Whites, and Blacks were 1,416, 1,380, and 1,359 cm3
, respectively. The
third study (Rushton, 1993) reanalyzed a set of anthropometric data originally
published by Melville Herskovits (who concluded there were not race differences
in cranial capacity) and found Whites averaged a cranial capacity of 1,421 and
254 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Blacks, 1,295 cm3
. The fourth study (Rushton, 1994) analyzed data obtained on
tens of thousands of people from around the world collated by the International
Labor Office in Geneva, Switzerland. It found that after adjusting for the effects
of body size and sex, samples from the Pacific Rim, Europe, and Africa had
average cranial capacities, of 1,308, 1,297, and 1,241 cm3 respectively. Finally,
Rushton and Osborne (1995) analyzed the Georgia Twin Study of adolescents and
found that after correcting for body size and sex, Whites had an average cranial
capacity of 1,269 cm3
, Blacks 1,251 cm3
Rushton’s results, based on calculating average cranial capacity from external
head size measures, join those from dozens of other studies from the 1840s to the
present on different samples using three different methods (endocranial volume
from empty skulls, wet brain weight at autopsy, and high-tech MRI). All show the
same strong pattern of East Asians averaging larger and heavier brains than
Whites who average larger and heavier brains than Blacks. For example, using
MRI technology, Harvey, Persaud, Ron, Baker, and Murray (1994) found that 41
Blacks in Britain averaged a smaller brain volume than did 67 British Whites.
The American anthropologist Samuel George Morton (1849) filled over 1,000
skulls with packing material to measure endocranial volume and found that
Blacks averaged about 5 cubic inches less cranial capacity than Whites. His
results were confirmed by Todd (1923), H. L. Gordon (1934), and Simmons
(1942). The most extensive study of race differences in endocranial volume to
date measured 20,000 skulls from around the world and reported East Asians,
Europeans, and Africans had average cranial volumes of 1,415, 1,362, and 1,268
, respectively (Beals, Smith, & Dodd, 1984).
Using the method of weighing brains at autopsy, Paul Broca (1873) reported
that Whites averaged heavier brains than did Blacks, with larger frontal lobes and
more complex convolutions. (Broca also used endocranial volume and found East
Asians averaged larger cranial capacities than Europeans, who averaged larger
than Blacks.) Other early autopsy studies found a mean Black–White group
difference in brain weight of about 100 g (Bean, 1906; Mall, 1909; Pearl, 1934;
Vint, 1934). A more recent autopsy study of 1,261 American adults found that the
brains of 811 White Americans in their sample averaged 1,323 g and the brains
of 450 Black Americans averaged 1,223 g—a difference of 100 g (Ho, Roessmann, Straumfjord, & Monroe, 1980). Because the Blacks and Whites in the study
were similar in body size, this was not responsible for the differences in brain
Rushton (2000; Rushton & Ankney, 1996) summarized the world database
using the three methods on which there are a sufficient number of studies
(autopsies, endocranial volume, and head measurements), as well as head measurements corrected for body size (see Rushton, 2000, pp. 126 –132, Table 6.6).
The results in cm3 or equivalents were as follows: East Asians 1,351, 1,415,
1,335, and 1,356 (M 1,364); Whites 1,356, 1,362, 1,341, and 1,329 (M
1,347); and Blacks 1,223, 1,268, 1,284, and 1,294 (M 1,267). The overall
mean for East Asians is 17 cm3 more than that for Whites and 97 cm3 more than
that for Blacks. Within-race differences due to differences in method of estimation
averaged 31 cm3
. Because 1 cubic inch of brain matter contains millions of brain
cells and hundreds of millions of synapses or neural connections, these group
differences in average brain size may explain group differences in average IQ.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 255
Jensen and Johnson (1994) showed that for both Blacks and Whites, the head
size by IQ correlation is true within families as well as between families,
indicating the intrinsic or functional relationship mentioned earlier. Further,
within each sex, Blacks and Whites fit the same regression line of head size on IQ.
When Blacks and Whites are perfectly matched for true-score IQ (i.e., IQ
corrected for measurement error) at either the Black mean or the White mean, the
overall average Black–White group difference in head circumference is virtually
nil. (Matching Blacks and Whites for IQ eliminates the average difference in head
size, but matching the groups on head size does not equalize their IQs. This is
what one would expect if brain size is only one of a number of brain factors
involved in IQ.)
In another analysis of the Georgia Twin Study, Jensen (1994) showed that the
mean Black–White group difference in head/brain size is also related to the
magnitude of the mean Black–White group difference in g. The correlation
coefficient of each test with the head measurements was correlated with the
magnitude of the Black–White group difference on that test, thus forming two
vectors. The column vector of IQ test and head size correlations indicated a
correlation of .51 (p .05) with the vector of standardized Black–White group
differences on each of the tests.
Section 7: Mean Race–IQ Differences and Transracial Adoption Studies
“Transracial adoption is the human analog of the cross-fostering design,
commonly used in animal behavior genetics research. . . .There is no question that
adoption constitutes a massive intervention” (Scarr & Weinberg, 1976, p. 726).
Studies of Korean and Vietnamese children adopted into White homes show that
although as babies many had been hospitalized for malnutrition, they nonetheless
grew to have IQs 10 or more points higher than their adoptive national norms. By
contrast, Black and mixed-race (Black–White) children adopted into White middle-class families typically have lower average scores than the White siblings with
whom they had been reared or than White children adopted into similar homes.
The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, the largest and best-known
transracial study, was designed specifically by Sandra Scarr and Richard Weinberg to separate genetic factors from rearing conditions as causal influences on the
cognitive performance of Black children (Scarr & Weinberg, 1976; Weinberg,
Scarr, & Waldman, 1992). It is also the only transracial adoption study that
includes a longitudinal follow-up, with testing at ages 7 and 17 years. Scarr and
Weinberg compared the IQ and academic achievement scores of Black, White,
and mixed-race Black/White children adopted into upper-middle-class White
families in Minnesota by adopting parents whose mean IQ was more than 1
standard deviation above the population mean of 100 (see Table 2). The biological
children of these parents were also tested.
The first testing of 265 children was carried out in 1975 when they were 7
years old and the second in 1986 when the 196 remaining in the study were 17
years old. The 7-year-old White biological (i.e., nonadopted) children had an
average IQ of 117 (see Table 2, 2nd column), similar to that found for children of
White upper-middle-class parents. The adopted children with two White biological parents had a mean IQ of 112. The adopted children with one Black and one
256 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Comparison of Cognitive Performance Measures at Ages 7 and 17 in Biological and Adopted (White, Mixed-Race, and
Black) Children, All Reared in Middle-Class White Families
grade point average
Biological parents 120 115 — — —
Nonadopted, with two White biological parents (N at age
7 143; N at 17 104) 117 109 3.0 64 69
Adopted, with two White biological parents (N at age 7
25; N at 17 16) 112 106 2.8 54 59
Adopted, with one White and one Black biological parent
(N at age 7 68; N at 17 55) 109 99 2.2 40 53
Adopted, with two Black biological parents (N at age 7
29; N at 17 21) 97 89 2.1 36 42
Note. From “The Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study: A Follow-Up of IQ Test Performance at Adolescence,” by R. A. Weinberg, S.
Scarr, and I. D. Waldman, 1992, Intelligence, 16, pp. 117–135. Copyright 1992 by Ablex Publishing. Adapted with permission.
a Based on national norms (weighted mean of four percentiles).
257 RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY
White biological parent averaged 109. The adopted children with two Black
biological parents had an average IQ of 97. (A mixed group of 21 Asian, North
American Indian, and Latin American Indian adopted children averaged an IQ of
100 but were not included in the main statistical analyses.)
Scarr and Weinberg (1976) interpreted the results of the testing at age 7 as
support for the culture-only position. They drew special attention to the fact that
the mean IQ of 105 for all “socially classified” Black children (i.e., those with
either one or two Black parents) was significantly above the U.S. White mean.
The poorer performance of children with two Black biological parents was
attributed to their more difficult and later placement. Scarr and Weinberg also
pointed out that this latter group had both natural and adoptive parents with
somewhat lower educational levels and abilities (2 points lower in adoptive
parents’ IQ). They found no evidence for the expectancy effects hypothesis that
adoptive parents’ beliefs about the child’s racial background influence the child’s
intellectual development. The mean score for 12 children wrongly believed by
their adoptive parents to have two Black biological parents was virtually the same
as that of the 56 children correctly classified by their adoptive parents as having
one Black and one White biological parent.
Table 2 also presents the results for the 196 children retested at age 17
(Weinberg et al., 1992). There were four independent assessments of the children’s cognitive performance at this later age: (a) an individually administered IQ
test, (b) an overall grade point average, (c) a class rank based on school performance, and (d) four special aptitude tests in school subjects administered by the
educational authority, which we averaged. The results are concordant with the
earlier testing. The nonadopted White children had a mean IQ of 109, a grade
point average of 3.0, a class rank at the 64th percentile, and an aptitude score at
the 69th percentile. The adopted children with two White biological parents had
a mean IQ of 106, a grade point average of 2.8, a class rank at the 54th percentile,
and an aptitude score at the 59th percentile. The adopted children with one Black
and one White biological parent had a mean IQ of 99, a grade point average of 2.2,
a class rank at the 40th percentile, and an aptitude score at the 53rd percentile. The
adopted children with two Black biological parents had a mean IQ of 89, a grade
point average of 2.1, a class rank at the 36th percentile, and an aptitude score at
the 42nd percentile. (The 12 remaining mixed group of Amerindian/Asian children had an IQ of 96 with no data provided on school achievement.)
Because different tests based on different standardization groups were used in
the first testing than in the follow-up, the overall average difference of about 8 IQ
points (evident for all groups, including the nonadopted group) between the two
test periods does not bear on the hypothesis of interest. The relevant comparisons
are those between the adopted groups of different races within each age level. The
mean of 89 for adopted children with two Black parents was slightly above the
national Black mean of 85 but not above the Black mean for Minnesota.
Weinberg et al. (1992) interpreted their follow-up results as further support
for the culture-only theory. Emphasizing the beneficial effects of the rearing
environment, they pointed out that at both age 7 and 17 all groups of adopted
children averaged above their expected population means. Their analyses frequently combined the two “socially classified Black” groups with “other” mixedrace children who had one parent of unknown, Asian, Amerindian, or other racial
258 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
background. In their age 17 breakdowns, Weinberg et al. (1992, p. 132) stated that
“[b]iological mothers’ race remained the best single predictor of adopted child’s
IQ when other variables were controlled,” which they then attributed to “unmeasured social characteristics.” Their overall conclusion was that “the social environment maintains a dominant role in determining the average IQ level of Black
and interracial children and that both social and genetic variables contribute to
individual variations among them” (p. 133).
Levin (1994) and Lynn (1994) disputed Weinberg et al.’s (1992) culture-only
interpretation. They each proposed a straightforward, hereditarian alternative: The
mean IQ and school achievement scores of Black children reflected their degree
of African ancestry. At both age 7 and 17, the adopted children with two Black
biological parents had lower average IQs and school achievement scores than did
those with one Black and one White biological parent, and these children, in turn,
averaged lower scores than did those with two White biological parents. Waldman, Weinberg, and Scarr (1994) responded to Levin (1994) and Lynn (1994)
with further regression analyses that indicated the children’s preadoptive experience was confounded with racial ancestry, and so an unambiguous interpretation
of the results was not possible.
Subsequently, Jensen (1998b) discussed these studies at length and reviewed
the evidence showing that age of adoption does not influence children’s IQ scores
after age 7 (e.g., Fisch, Bilek, Deinard, & Chang, 1976). Studies of severely
malnourished, late-adopted, East Asian children (see below) provide substantial
evidence that age of adoption does not adversely influence IQ in transracial
adoptions. More generally, as reviewed in Section 5, dozens of adoption, twin,
and family studies of Whites show that although the shared-family environmental
component of true-score IQ variance can be quite large at age 7, by late adolescence it is the smallest component. After that age, genetic and within-family
(nonshared) environmental effects account for the largest components of variance
(see Figure 3).
Small sample studies of very young children reared in enriched environments
sometimes find an absence of the usual race differences in IQ. In two studies of
2- to 5-year-olds raised in English residential nurseries, Tizard (1974) compared
Black (African and West Indian), White, and mixed-parentage children and found
no significant differences among the three groups on several language comprehension tests and on the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence
(WPPSI); the single significant difference was in favor of the non-White children.
Moore (1986) found that at age 7, 23 Black children adopted by middle-class
White families had a mean IQ of 117, whereas a similar group of children adopted
by middle-class Black families had a mean IQ of 104, both significantly above the
national Black mean of 85. To be more informative, future studies need to be
supplemented by follow-up testing, as in the Minnesota Study. Behavior genetic
studies consistently show that, as people age, their genes exert ever more influence, whereas family socialization effects decrease (see Figure 3). Trait differences not apparent early in life begin to appear at puberty and are completely
apparent by age 17.
Three studies of East Asian children adopted by White families support the
hereditarian hypothesis. In the first, 25 four-year-olds from Vietnam, Korea,
Cambodia, and Thailand, all adopted into White American homes prior to 3 years
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 259
of age, excelled in academic ability with a mean IQ score of 120, compared with
the U.S. norm of 100 (Clark & Hanisee, 1982). Prior to placement, half of the
babies had required hospitalization for malnutrition.
In the second study, Winick, Meyer, and Harris (1975) found 141 Korean
children adopted as infants by American families exceeded the national average
in both IQ and achievement scores when they reached 10 years of age. The
principal interest of the investigators was on the possible effects of severe
malnutrition on later intelligence, and many of these Korean children had been
malnourished in infancy. When tested, those who had been severely malnourished
as infants obtained a mean IQ of 102; a moderately well-nourished group obtained
a mean IQ of 106; and an adequately nourished group obtained a mean IQ of 112.
A study by Frydman and Lynn (1989) examined 19 Korean infants adopted
by families in Belgium. At about 10 years of age, their mean IQ was 119, the
verbal IQ was 111, and the performance IQ was 124. Even correcting the Belgian
norms upward to 109 to account for the increase in IQ scores over time (about 3
IQ points a decade; see Section 13), the Korean children still had a statistically
significant 10-point advantage in mean IQ over indigenous Belgian children.
Neither the social class of the adopting parents nor the number of years the child
spent in the adopted family had any effect on the child’s IQ.
Section 8: Mean Race–IQ Differences and Racial Admixture
In the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study, the IQs of the mixed-race
(Black/White) adoptees averaged between those of the “nonmixed” White and the
“nonmixed” Black adoptees, as expected under a genetic hypothesis (see Table 2).
Results from some other types of studies are also consistent with that hypothesis.
In her review, Shuey (1966) found that in 16 of 18 studies in which skin color
could be used as a proxy for amount of admixture, Blacks with lighter skin color
averaged higher scores than those with darker skin, although the magnitude of the
association was quite low (r .10). The Black American average IQ of 85 (15
points higher than the sub-Saharan African average of 70; see Section 3) is also
consistent with the genetic hypothesis, given the approximately 20% White
admixture of Black Americans (Chakraborty, Kamboh, Nwankwo, & Ferrell,
1992; Parra et al., 1998). The mixed-race “Colored” population of South Africa
also has an average IQ of 85, intermediate to the respective African and White
means of 70 and 100 (Owen, 1992). Early studies of brain weight data also fit with
the genetic hypothesis. Bean (1906) found, as did Pearl (1934), that the greater the
amount of White admixture (judged independently from skin color), the higher the
mean brain weight at autopsy in Black groups. More recent data of this nature are
The average IQ scores of around 70 for Black Americans in certain areas of
the Deep South of the United States where the degree of White admixture is
significantly below the general average (Chakraborty et al., 1992; Parra et al.,
1998) are also consistent with the hereditarian interpretation of the effects of
hybridization. An average IQ of 71 was found for all of the Black children in an
entire school district from a rural county in Georgia; the average White IQ in the
same county was 101 (Jensen, 1977). Similarly, Stanley and Porter (1967) found
the scores on the SAT of all-Black college students in Georgia were too low to be
260 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
predictive of college grades, thereby raising the question of whether test scores on
Black Americans are as valid as those for White Americans. However, when Hills
and Stanley (1970) gave the School and College Ability Test (a much easier test
to pass) to similar students, they found that their scores were normally distributed
and did predict college grades, though the average for the Black college students
was at about the 50th percentile on eighth-grade national norms.
Most recently, Lynn (2002) and Rowe (2002) analyzed data from large,
publicly available, archival data sets, which show that groups of mixed-race
individuals have mean scores intermediate to unmixed groups of Blacks and of
Whites. Lynn examined the 1982 National Opinion Research Center’s survey of
a representative sample of the adult population, excluding non-English speakers.
The 442 Blacks in the sample were asked whether they would describe themselves
as “very dark,” “dark brown,” “medium brown,” “light brown,” or “very light.”
The correlation between these self-ratings and a 10-word vocabulary test score
was .17 (p .01). Rowe examined the 1994 National Longitudinal Study of
Adolescent Health’s survey of a representative sample of youths, with intentional
oversampling of Black children of highly educated parents. The mean age for the
entire sample (9,830 Whites, 4,017 Blacks, and 119 mixed-race individuals) was
16 years. The Black adolescents averaged a lower birth weight, a lower verbal IQ,
and a higher number of sexual partners than did the White adolescents. For each
characteristic, the mixed-race mean fell between the means of the other two
groups. Rowe found the social class explanation of the group differences “unconvincing” because, of the three variables, only verbal IQ showed a moderate
correlation with social class and statistically adjusting for it left the main findings
unchanged. He also rejected the “discrimination based on skin tone” hypothesis
because it was eliminated by deliberately selecting only those mixed-race adolescents who were judged by their interviewers to be Black, based on their
Three studies of racially mixed individuals at first appear to support the
culture-only hypothesis against the genetic hypothesis. Eyferth (1961; Eyferth,
Brandt, & Hawel, 1960) reported IQ data for out-of-wedlock children fathered by
soldiers stationed in Germany after World War II and then reared by White
German mothers. The mean IQs for 83 White children and for 98 racially mixed
children were both about 97 (97.2 for the Whites, 96.5 for the racially mixed). As
Loehlin et al. (1975, pp. 126 –128) noted, however, these results are ambiguous
for three reasons. First, the children were still very young when tested. One third
of the children were between 5 and 10 years of age, and two thirds were between
10 and 13 years. As discussed in Section 5 (see Figure 3), behavior genetic studies
show that while family socialization effects on IQ are often strong before puberty,
after puberty they dwindle, sometimes to zero. Second, 20% to 25% of the
“Black” fathers were not African Americans but French North Africans (i.e.,
largely Caucasian or “Whites” as we have defined the terms here). Third, there
was rigorous selection based on IQ score in the U.S. Army at the time, with a
rejection rate for Blacks on the preinduction Army General Classification Test of
about 30%, compared with 3% for Whites (see Davenport, 1946, Tables I and III).
The second study reports a 9-point IQ advantage for the 4-year-old offspring
of couples with a White mother and a Black father (mean IQ 102, N 101)
compared with those from the offspring of a Black mother and a White father
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 261
(mean IQ 93, N 28). Willerman, Naylor, and Myrianthopoulos (1974),
assuming White mothers provide better pre- or postnatal environments for their
children than do Black mothers, interpreted their data as more consistent with a
cultural than a genetic hypothesis (see also Nisbett, 1998). However, Loehlin et
al. (1975, p. 126) noted that the mixed-race pairs with White mothers averaged
almost a year more schooling than did the pairs with Black mothers. Thus the
White mothers may have had a higher average IQ than the Black ones. The
mid-parent IQs have to be the same for the results to be interpretable. Also, the
two sets of mixed-race children averaged an IQ of 98, intermediate to the White
and Black children in the sample from whom the mixed-race children had been
drawn (IQs 105 and 91, respectively; Broman, Nichols, & Kennedy, 1975,
The third study seeming to support the culture-only hypothesis is a subsidiary
analysis by Moore (1986; see Section 8) of a small number of 7-year-old children
adopted by middle-class White parents. Moore found no difference in IQ between
those children with only one and those with two Black biological parents. The
mean IQ for the group of 9 adopted children with two Black biological parents
was 109, and the mean IQ for the group of 14 children with one Black and one
White biological parent was 107. Given the young age of these children, a
follow-up to adolescence would be informative.
Studies of blood groups provide no support for the hereditarian perspective.
Both Loehlin, Vandenberg, and Osborne (1973) and Scarr, Pakstis, Katz, and
Barker (1977) found that blood groups distinguishing African from European
ancestry did not predict IQ scores in Black samples. However, these studies failed
to choose genetic markers with large allele frequency differences between Africans and Europeans (Jensen, 1998b, pp. 480, 524 n.64).
Molecular genetic technology was unsophisticated in the 1970s. In the future,
the issue may be resolved by calculating individual admixture through the use of
DNA markers as already occurs in medicine (Risch et al., 2002). On the basis of
existing surveys, an individual’s racial group can be determined by testing his or
her DNA at 100 random sites along the genome, or at 30 specifically chosen ones.
Even different ethnic groups within a race can be distinguished using some 50
specifically chosen sites. A genetic hypothesis predicts that for those Black
individuals who possess more White genes, their physical, behavioral, and other
characteristics will approach those of Whites.
Although the studies of racial hybrids are generally consistent with the genetic
hypothesis, to date they are not conclusive. It may be true, for example, that
lighter skinned Cape Coloreds and African Americans have better nutrition, have
greater opportunities for learning, or are treated better by their societies. On the
other hand, the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study (Table 2) held many such
factors constant and removed the most frequently proposed causal agents such as
poverty, malnutrition, poor schools, and dysfunctional neighborhoods. Yet, here
too, the mixed-race children had a higher mean IQ than did the children of two
Black parents, and the means for each group were very similar to those for their
respective counterparts elsewhere in the United States. The discussion in this
section is particularly supportive of Loehlin’s (2000) conclusion that “Research
using larger samples and better techniques for estimating ancestry is called for and
quite feasible” (p. 188).
262 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Section 9: Mean Race–IQ Differences and Regression to the Mean
Regression toward the mean provides still another method of testing if the
group differences are genetic. Regression toward the mean is seen, on average,
when individuals with high IQ scores mate and their children show lower scores
than their parents. This is because the parents pass on some, but not all, of their
genes to their offspring. The converse happens for low IQ parents; they have
children with somewhat higher IQs. Although parents pass on a random half of
their genes to their offspring, they cannot pass on the particular combinations of
genes that cause their own exceptionality. This is analogous to rolling a pair of
dice and having them come up two 6s or two 1s. The odds are that on the next
roll, you will get some value that is not quite as high (or as low). Physical and
psychological traits involving dominant and recessive genes show some regression effect. Genetic theory predicts the magnitude of the regression effect to be
smaller the closer the degree of kinship between the individuals being compared
(e.g., identical twin full-sibling or parent– child half-sibling). Culture-only
theory makes no systematic or quantitative predictions.
For any trait, scores should move toward the average for that population. So
in the United States, genetic theory predicts that the children of Black parents of
IQ 115 will regress toward the Black IQ average of 85, whereas children of White
parents of IQ 115 will regress toward the White IQ average of 100. Similarly,
children of Black parents of IQ 70 should move up toward the Black IQ average
of 85, whereas children of White parents of IQ 70 should move up toward the
White IQ average of 100. This hypothesis has been tested and the predictions
confirmed. Regression would explain why Black children born to high IQ,
wealthy Black parents have test scores 2 to 4 points lower than do White children
born to low IQ, poor White parents (Jensen, 1998b, p. 358). High IQ Black
parents do not pass on the full measure of their genetic advantage to their children,
even though they gave them a good upbringing and good schools, often better than
their own. (The same, of course, applies to high IQ White parents.) Culture-only
theory cannot predict these results but must argue that cultural factors somehow
imitate the effect theoretically predicted by genetic theory, which have also been
demonstrated in studies of physical traits and in animals.
Jensen (1973, pp. 107–119) tested the regression predictions with data from
siblings (900 White sibling pairs and 500 Black sibling pairs). These provide an
even better test than parent– offspring comparisons because siblings share very
similar environments. Black and White children matched for IQ had siblings who
had regressed approximately halfway to their respective population means rather
than to the mean of the combined population. For example, when Black children
and White children were matched with IQs of 120, the siblings of Black children
averaged close to 100, whereas the siblings of White children averaged close to
110. A reverse effect was found with children matched at the lower end of the IQ
scale. When Black children and White children are matched for IQs of 70, the
siblings of the Black children averaged about 78, whereas the siblings of the
White children averaged about 85. The regression line showed no significant
departure from linearity throughout the range of IQ from 50 to 150, as predicted
by genetic theory but not by culture-only theory.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 263
Section 10: The Race–Behavior Matrix
Around the world, the rate of dizygotic (i.e., two-egg) twinning is less than 4
per 1,000 births among East Asians, 8 among Whites, and 16 or greater among
Blacks (Bulmer, 1970). Multiple birthing rates have been shown to be heritable,
based on the race of the mother, regardless of the race of the father, as found in
East Asian–White crosses in Hawaii and White–Black crosses in Brazil (Bulmer,
On average, Black babies are born a week earlier than White babies, yet they
are more mature as measured by pulmonary function, amniotic fluid, and bone
development. In the United States, 51% of Black children have been born by week
39 of pregnancy compared with 33% of White children. Black African babies,
even those born to mothers in the professional classes, are also born earlier than
White babies (Papiernik, Cohen, Richard, de Oca, & Feingold, 1986). They are
not born premature but sooner, and they are biologically more mature.
After birth, Black babies continue to mature faster, on average, than White
babies, whereas East Asian babies average an even slower rate. X-rays show a
faster rate of average bone growth in Black children than in White children, and
a faster rate in White children than in East Asian children (Eveleth & Tanner,
1990, pp. 154 –155). Black babies at a given age also average greater muscular
strength and a more accurate reach for objects. Black children average a younger
age of sitting, crawling, walking, and putting on their own clothes than Whites or
East Asians. The average age of walking is 13 months in East Asian children, 12
months in White children, and 11 months in Black children (Bayley, 1965;
Brazelton & Freedman, 1971).
Blacks average a faster rate of dental development than do Whites, who have
a faster rate than do East Asians. On average, Black children begin the first stage
of permanent tooth growth at about 5.8 years, whereas Whites and East Asians do
not begin until 6.1 years (Eveleth & Tanner, 1990, pp. 158 –161). Blacks also have
an earlier age of sexual maturity than do Whites, who in turn have an earlier
average age than do East Asians, whether measured by age of first menstruation,
first sexual experience, or first pregnancy (Rushton, 2000, pp. 147–150).
Myopia (nearsightedness) is positively correlated with IQ and may be caused
by extra myelinization in the eye and so possibly linked to brain size (Miller,
1994). The relationship appears to be pleiotropic (Cohn, Cohn, & Jensen, 1988);
that is, a gene affecting one trait also has some effect on one or more others. There
are significant racial and ethnic differences in the frequency of myopia, with the
highest rates found in East Asians, the lowest rates among Blacks, with Whites
intermediate (Post, 1982).
Not just in the United States but around the world, East Asians and Blacks fall
at the two ends of a continuum with Whites intermediate, not only on mean
cognitive test scores and brain size measures but also on 60 life-history variables
that provide measures of maturation, personality, reproduction, and social organization. It seems unlikely that social factors alone could produce this consistent
pattern on so diverse a set of behaviors (see Table 3; Rushton, 2000, p. 5, Table
1.1 for complete list). This evidence raises the theoretical question of whether
single traits such as intelligence are part of a broader “life-history” perspective.
264 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Section 11: Mean Race–IQ Differences and Human Origins
The currently most commonly accepted view of human origins, the “Out-ofAfrica” theory, posits that Homo sapiens arose in Africa about 150,000 years ago,
expanded northward beyond Africa about 100,000 years ago, with a European–
East Asian split about 41,000 years ago (Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994; Stringer &
McKie, 1996). In Cavalli-Sforza’s (2000) maximum likelihood tree devised on
the basis of molecular genetic markers, the most distant group was the Africans,
with Europeans and Asians being closer. Cavalli-Sforza observed, “All world
trees place the earliest split between Africans and non-Africans, which is expected
given that all humans originated in Africa” (p. 72). This is also the conclusion of
other reviewers (e.g., Risch et al., 2002).
Evolutionary selection pressures were different in the hot savanna where
Worldwide Average Differences Among Blacks, Whites, and East Asians
Trait Blacks Whites East Asians
IQ test scores 85 102 106
Decision times Slower Intermediate Faster
Cultural achievements Low High High
Cranial capacity (cm3
) 1,267 1,347 1,364
Cortical neurons (millions) 13,185 13,665 13,767
Gestation time Shorter Longer Longer
Skeletal development Earlier Intermediate Later
Motor development Earlier Intermediate Later
Dental development Earlier Intermediate Later
Age of first intercourse Earlier Intermediate Later
Age of first pregnancy Earlier Intermediate Later
Life span Shortest Intermediate Longest
Aggressiveness Higher Intermediate Lower
Cautiousness Lower Intermediate Higher
Impulsivity Higher Intermediate Lower
Self-concept Higher Intermediate Lower
Sociability Higher Intermediate Lower
Two-egg twinning (per 1,000 births) 16 8 4
Hormone levels Higher Intermediate Lower
Sex characteristics Larger Intermediate Smaller
Intercourse frequencies Higher Intermediate Lower
Permissive attitudes Higher Intermediate Lower
Sexually transmitted diseases Higher Intermediate Lower
Marital stability Lower Intermediate Higher
Law abidingness Lower Intermediate Higher
Mental health Lower Intermediate Higher
Note. From Race, Evolution, and Behavior: A Life History Perspective (p. 5), by J. P.
Rushton, 2000, Port Huron, MI: Charles Darwin Research Institute. Copyright 2000 by
J. P. Rushton. Adapted with permission.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 265
Africans lived than in the cold northern regions Europeans experienced, or the
even colder Arctic regions of East Asians. These ecological differences affected
not only morphology but also behavior. It has been proposed that the farther north
the populations migrated out of Africa, the more they encountered the cognitively
demanding problems of gathering and storing food, gaining shelter, making
clothes, and raising children successfully during prolonged winters (Rushton,
2000). As these populations evolved into present-day Europeans and East Asians,
the ecological pressures selected for larger brains, slower rates of maturation, and
lower levels of testosterone—with concomitant reductions in sexual potency,
aggressiveness, and impulsivity; increases in family stability, advanced planning,
self-control, rule following, and longevity; and the other characteristics listed in
Table 3. The fact that the three-way pattern in IQ, brain size, and other traits is not
unique to the United States but occurs internationally is consistent with a single,
general (genetic– evolutionary) theory, whereas culture-only theory must invoke a
number of highly localized, specific explanations.
As Homo sapiens migrated further away from Africa, the random genetic
mutations that occur at a constant rate in all living species accumulated, along
with the adaptive changes. The resulting differences in allele frequencies are
sufficient for numerous and extensive genetic investigations to yield essentially
the same picture and identify the same major racial groupings as did the morphological markers of classical anthropology. The greatest genetic divergence
within the human species is between Africans (who have had the most time for
random mutations to accumulate) and non-Africans (Cavalli-Sforza 2000; Cavalli-Sforza et al., 1994; Nei & Roychoudhury, 1993). Jensen (1998b, pp. 517–520)
carried out a principal-components analysis of data on genetic markers from Nei
and Roychoudhury (1993) and found the familiar clustering of races: (a) East
Asians, (b) Europeans and East Indians, (c) South Asians and Pacific Islanders, (d)
Africans, (e) North and South Amerindians and Eskimos, and (f) Aboriginal
Australians and Papuan New Guineans. Howells’s (1993) analysis of betweengroups variation in craniometric data also revealed a similar population tree. The
genetic hypothesis is consistent with the latest findings on human origins and
genetic variation, whereas culture-only theory is indifferent to them (Crow, 2002).
Section 12: How Well Have Culture-Only Theories of Mean Race–IQ
Differences Held Up?
Culture-only hypotheses have not explained the mean Black–White group
differences in IQ. (They have especially not explained the findings on East
Asians.) One early view was that the mean Black–White group difference in IQ
was due to the then obvious differences in (segregated) school facilities (Myrdal,
1944). However, despite the U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education
(1954) decision striking down segregated schooling, and the consequent nationwide program of school busing, the mean Black–White group difference has not
decreased. Moreover, the Coleman Report (Coleman et al., 1966) found that the
racial composition of schools per se was not related to achievement in either
Blacks or Whites. Most of the variation in IQ scores occurred within schools and
less than 20% occurred between schools. Negligible, and in some cases, negative
correlations were found between IQ and variables such as pupil expenditure,
266 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
teachers’ salaries, teachers’ qualifications, student/teacher ratios, and the availability of other school professionals (see also Coleman, 1990 –1991).
The most frequently stated culture-only hypothesis is that the mean IQ
differences are due to SES. In fact, controlling for SES only reduces the mean
Black–White group difference in IQ by about a third, around 5 IQ points. The
genetic perspective does not regard this control for SES as being entirely environmental. It holds that the parents’ socioeconomic level in part reflects their
genetic differences in intelligence. Moreover, according to the culture-only theory, as Black groups advance up the socioeconomic ladder, their children should
be less exposed to environmental deficits and therefore should do better and, by
extension, close the distance separating the Black mean with the White. In fact,
the magnitude of the mean Black–White group difference in IQ for higher SES
levels, when measured in standard deviations, is larger (Herrnstein & Murray,
1994, pp. 286 –289).
Other nongenetic hypotheses are that standard IQ tests are culturally biased
because the test items are not equally familiar and motivating to all groups or that
they only measure familiarity with middle-class language or culture. However,
despite attempts to equate items for familiarity and culture-fairness, no “culturefair” test has eliminated the mean group difference. American Blacks actually
have higher average scores on culturally loaded tests than on culturally reduced
tests, which is the opposite to what is found for some other groups such as
Mexican Indians and East Asians. (The mean Black–White group differences are
greatest on the g factor, regardless of the type of test from which g is extracted;
see Section 4.) Moreover, the three-way pattern of mean Black–White–East Asian
group differences occurs worldwide on culture-fair reaction time measures, which
all children can do in less than 1 s (see Section 3).
Subsequent culture-only hypotheses have pointed to specific aspects of deprivation as possible determinants of IQ. These include the following: (a) lack of
reading material in the home, (b) poor cultural amenities in the home, (c) weak
structural integrity of the home, (d) foreign language in the home, (e) low
preschool attendance, (f) no encyclopedia in the home, (g) low level of parental
education, (h) little time spent on homework, (i) low parental educational desires
for child, (j) low parental interest in school work, (k) negative child self-concept
(self-esteem), and (l) low child interest in school and reading. However, both
within-race kinship studies and across-race adoption studies show that these
environmental variables have increasingly smaller effects on the adoptees’ IQ as
they reach adolescence (see Sections 5 and 7). Moreover, other studies found that
American Indians and East Asians averaged higher in IQ than Blacks, even
though they averaged lower on these proposed causal factors (Coleman et al.,
1966, p. 20). Another example comes from the Inuit, who live above the Arctic
Circle and have higher average IQs than do either American or Jamaican Blacks
(Berry, 1966; MacArthur, 1968) even though their socioeconomic conditions are
extremely poor and unemployment is high (P. E. Vernon, 1965, 1979).
In the 1960s, culture-only theory formed the basis for implementing “Head
Start”-type intervention programs as a way to eliminate the group differences in
IQ and scholastic achievement. Although federal matching grants were given to
improve the learning skills, social skills, and health status of low-income preschool children so that they could begin schooling on an equal footing with their
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 267
more advantaged peers, the mean Black–White group difference in IQ was not
eliminated or permanently reduced. Currie and Thomas (1995) reviewed the
literature and carried out a longitudinal study using a national sample of over
4,000 children in which they compared siblings to control for selection bias. They
found that although Head Start led to large and significant immediate gains in test
scores for both White and Black groups, these gains were quickly lost for Black
groups, although some remained for White groups. Even more intensive and
prolonged educational interventions than Head Start have not produced lasting
effects on IQ or scholastic performance (Jensen, 1998b, pp. 333–344) or that
generalize to other measures or criteria.
Some culture-only theorists propose that SES should not be assessed in terms
of crude material measures but must be seen as a complex of attitudes, aspirations,
self-images, and societal stereotypes (Loury, 2002; Ogbu, 2002; Sowell, 1994).
Some of these types of cultural factors have been tested as well. Matching Black
and White children for the geographical areas of their homes, the schools they
attend, and other finer grade socioeconomic indicators again reduces the mean
group IQ difference but does not eliminate it. Black children from the best areas
and schools (those producing the highest average scores) still average slightly
lower than do White children with the lowest socioeconomic indicators (Herrnstein & Murray, 1994, pp. 286 –289; Jensen, 1998b, pp. 357–360). This is an
anomaly for the culture-only theory but is explained by genetic theory through
regression to the mean (see Section 10).
Other culture-only hypotheses have invoked Black role models, test anxiety,
self-esteem, and racial stress as causal agents, but none of these have ever been
consistently confirmed (Jensen, 1980, 1998b). Other ideas, such as stereotype
threat (Steele, 1997), involuntary-minorities-are-castes (Ogbu, 2002), and race
stigma (Loury, 2002), do not explain the low IQ of Africans south of the Sahara,
where Blacks are in the majority. Nor is there any evidence from analyses of large
archival data sets that unique minority-specific factors such as the history of
slavery, White racism, lowered expectations, or heightened stress make cultural
influences stronger for one group than for another (see Section 5). Neither can
racial stigmatization (Loury, 2002) explain why East Asians average higher in IQ
and brain size than Whites. A progressive theory of racial group differences must
address all the known facts.
Culture-only theory must offer some explanation why its main variables—
poverty, social class, religious beliefs, cultural practices, father absence, and
parenting styles—account for so little variance within groups. Given these repeated findings, it is unlikely such variables can account for differences between
groups (see Section 5). Adoption and twin studies show that the environmental
variables influencing IQ and social behavior are primarily those that occur within
families rather than between families (see Figure 3). Although the causes of
within-group differences are logically separate from the causes of between-groups
differences (Section 2), even when the combined set of within- and betweenfamilies variables is examined together, there are still no identifiable race-specific
variables (Section 5).
It is always possible that new data with sharper hypotheses and better controls
could require a revision of the finding of no shared family or minority-specific
cultural effects on race–IQ differences. There were hints (but no more than that)
268 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
of a lower heritability and a greater shared environment component in Black
adolescents than in White adolescents in Rushton and Osborne’s (1995) twin
study of cranial capacity (Section 5). Similarly, an epidemiological study of
low-birth-weight and normal children, followed from 6 to 11 years of age,
reported an IQ decline in mainly Black inner-city children with no similar IQ
decline in mainly White suburban children. The authors interpreted their results as
a between-community effect and the racial makeup of the schools the children
attended, more than to individual and family factors (Breslau et al., 2001).
Behavioral genetic designs using traditional modeling procedures (Section 5),
along with new individual admixture measures on mixed-race participants (Section 8), could provide counterevidence to our conclusions. Unfortunately, behavioral geneticists (who have the most knowledge of the best techniques) have for
the most part avoided the racial question.
One culture-only hypothesis currently enjoying much support is based on the
secular increase in test scores, known as the Flynn effect because of the repeated
demonstration by James Flynn (1984, 1987, 1999) that the average IQ in several
countries has increased by about 3 points a decade over the last 50 years. Some
have suggested that the Flynn effect implies that the 1 standard deviation difference in the mean Black–White IQ difference in the United States will gradually
disappear over time (Flynn, 1999). However, one statistical analysis shows that
the Flynn effect is not on the g factor, the principal source of the mean Black–
White group difference.
Table 4 (based on Rushton, 1999) shows the results of a principal-components
analysis of the secular gains in IQ from the United States, Germany, Austria, and
Scotland, along with Black–White IQ difference scores from the United States,
inbreeding depression scores from cousin-marriages in Japan, and g loadings from
the standardization samples of the WISC–R and WISC–III. The relevant findings
are as follows: (a) The IQ gains on the WISC–R and WISC–III form a cluster,
showing that the secular trend in overall test scores is a reliable phenomenon; but
(b) this cluster is independent of a second cluster formed by Black–White
differences, inbreeding depression scores (a purely genetic effect), and g factor
loadings (a largely genetic effect).
This analysis shows that the secular increase in IQ behaves differently from
the mean Black–White group difference in IQ. Flynn’s (1999) hypothesis that the
IQ gains over time imply a purely environmental origin of mean racial-group
differences is not supported. Although the Flynn effect does suggest that improving the environment, especially at the low end of the IQ distribution, can improve
test scores, the cluster analysis shows that the g factor is independent of the Flynn
effect. Instead, g is associated with inbreeding depression, for which there is no
nongenetic explanation, which implies strongly that g is less amenable to environmental manipulation. These findings are consistent with an analysis of adoption data, which shows the IQ gains that result from being adopted into high SES
homes do not produce a gain in g but only in non-g factors and in specificity of
the various subtests. The adopted children’s g factor scores reflected the SES level
of their biological parents (Jensen, 1998a).
Dickens and Flynn (2001) replied to Rushton’s (1999) cluster analysis with a
more general statement of having resolved the paradox of how high heritabilities
could go along with large secular increases in IQ. Their solution rests on the role
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 269
of genotype– environment correlation. Recall from Section 5 that this occurs
largely through the individual’s genetic tendency to encounter, select, or create
certain aspects of the environment in preference to alternatives. Genotype–
environment correlation is part of the mechanism by which genetic proclivities
become realized. Dickens and Flynn hypothesized that the positive feedback
effects from even small initial environmental advantages stimulate mental development and lead to an even more favorable environment, stimulating yet more IQ
Dickens and Flynn’s (2001) model, however, appears inconsistent with
some empirical evidence. Gene– environment correlation cannot explain the
mean Black–White group difference in IQ because it implies that Black
groups, in comparison with White groups, become increasingly disadvantaged
during the developmental period from early childhood to maturity. With
increasing age there would be cumulative unfavorable effects on IQ for Black
groups with respect to White groups. Yet national data (reviewed in Section
3) show that the size of the mean Black–White group difference remains
approximately constant at 1 standard deviation and shows no significant
change throughout the developmental period after about 3 years of age. The
follow-up results of the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study (Table 2), and
the fact that the heritability for IQ generally increases from about 0.40 in early
childhood to about 0.80 in later maturity (Figure 3), both contradict the
Dickens–Flynn thesis. So too does the fact that both g estimates calculated
Principal-Components Analysis and Varimax Rotation for Pearson
Correlations of Inbreeding Depression Scores, Black–White Differences, g
Loadings, and Gains Over Time on the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for
Children (WISC) With Reliability Partialed Out
I II 1 2
Inbreeding depression scores from Japan
(WISC–R) 0.31 0.61 0.26 0.63
Black–White differences from the U.S.
(WISC–R) 0.29 0.70 0.23 0.72
WISC–R g loadings from the U.S. 0.33 0.90 0.40 0.87
WISC–III g loadings from the U.S. 0.61 0.64 0.66 0.59
U.S. gains 1 (WISC to WISC–R) 0.73 0.20 0.75 0.13
U.S. gains 2 (WISC–R to WISC–III) 0.81 0.40 0.77 0.47
German gains (WISC to WISC–R) 0.91 0.03 0.91 0.11
Austria gains (WISC to WISC–R) 0.87 0.00 0.86 0.07
Scotland gains (WISC to WISC–R) 0.97 0.08 0.96 0.17
% of total variance explained 48.60 25.49 48.44 25.65
Note. Values in bold define the factors. From “Secular Gains in IQ Not Related to the
g Factor and Inbreeding Depression—Unlike Black–White Differences: A Reply to
Flynn,” by J. P. Rushton, 1999, Personality and Individual Differences, 26, p. 387.
Copyright 1999 by Elsevier Science. Reprinted with permission.
270 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
from East Indians in South Africa and genetic estimates calculated from the
Japanese in Japan are able to predict the magnitude of Black–White differences in South Africa and in the United States (see Sections 4 and 5). Such
robust generalization implies that the mean Black–White group difference in
IQ is sufficiently persistent across cultures as to be unaffected by major
changes in gene– environment correlations.
Dickens and Flynn (2001) provided no empirical evidence that gene– environment correlation constitutes either a large component of the phenotypic variance or that it increases with age (both of which are required by their model).
They also did not provide any other direct empirical evidence. In addition, their
models have been criticized for not taking the stability of IQ scores over time into
account and for having too many free parameters (Loehlin, 2002; Rowe &
Rodgers, 2002), to which Dickens and Flynn (2002) have replied. Because to date
Dickens and Flynn have not given the high heritability of IQ any independent
causal effect in explaining the mean Black–White group difference, their thesis is
best placed in the culture-only camp.
Section 13: Evaluating the Culture-Only and the Hereditarian
Table 5 summarizes the 30-plus-years of research on Black–White IQ differences carried out since Jensen’s (1969) Harvard Educational Review article. It
compares and contrasts the predictions of the hereditarian and the culture-only
theories against the existing data reviewed in Sections 3 through 12, to which we
then assigned “scores.” We assigned the highest score () when, in our opinion,
the results confirmed a novel prediction first derived from theory that was then
tested and confirmed. We awarded the next highest score () when the results
were consistent with theory but not predicted from it. We gave a neutral score (0)
when the results could not be predicted from theory so that it could be either
confirmed or disconfirmed. We assigned a negative score (–) when the predicted
results were disconfirmed. Because some diacritical tests have two components,
the maximum possible support for either research program would be a score of
12 2 24; maximum disconfirmation would be a score of –24. Naturally these
scores reflect our particular evaluation of how well the two competing theories
predict and explain the evidence. We acknowledge that others might see things
differently, and we invite them to assign their scores. Our purpose is to advance
Our evaluation of the evidence supports a cumulative score of 17 for the
hereditarian model and –7 for the culture-only model. We therefore suggest that
the hypothesis of some genetic component in the mean Black–White group
difference in IQ should be considered “provisionally true.” Naturally, we do not
expect everyone to agree with this assessment. Our own perspective is obviously
hereditarian (Jensen, 1998b; Rushton, 2000). Those working from a different
perspective may arrive at alternative tallies or add new dimensions to be tallied
that we have overlooked. Before discussing our conclusion, we consider in more
detail the data on each of the categories in Table 5.
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 271
Comparison Chart for Evaluating the Hereditarian (50% Genetic) and Culture-Only (0% Genetic) Research Programs
Section: Prediction Hereditarian model Score Culture-only model Score
3: Mean Black–White–East Asian IQ
differences found worldwide.
Predicted by hereditarian model. () Lower Black scores due to cultural deprivation,
but higher East Asian scores anomalous.
4: Mean Black–White differences
g loaded cognitive tests
than on culturally loaded
Novel prediction from theory
() Predictions contradicted. (
5: Mean Black–White differences in
IQ greater on more heritable
subtests than on culturally
Novel prediction from theory
confirmed. () Predictions contradicted. (
6: Mean Black–White–East Asian IQ
differences associated with mean
differences in brain size.
Explains Black–White IQ
differences. () Lower Black size due to nutritional deprivation, but East Asian size anomalous. ()
7: Mean Black–White–East Asian IQ
differences remain (in all
directions) following transracial
adoption, despite early deprivation
in East Asians.
Genetic effects stronger than
common environment effects. () Prediction fails because Black–White IQ differences do not disappear. Cannot explain
why East Asians average higher than
8: Mean Black–White differences in
IQ and brain size reflected in
studies of racial admixture.
Children wrongly believed by
adoptive parents to have two
Black biological parents had the
same IQs as children correctly
classified as of mixed race.
Predicted by genetic theory. (
) Social discrimination via skin color does not
explain racial misclassification nor the
pattern of mean brain size differences.
9: Mean Black–White IQ differences
show regression toward predicted
race means. Best evidence comes
from well-controlled sibling
Novel prediction confirmed. () Parent–child regression predicted, but sibling
272 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
Table 5 (continued)
Section: Prediction Hereditarian model Score Culture-only model Score
10: Mean Black–White–East Asian
IQ differences are paralleled by
a race–behavior matrix of 60
Series of novel predictions
based on an evolutionary
theory of racial origins
() Anomalous. (
11: Mean Black–White–East Asian
differences mesh with what is
known about human evolution.
Series of novel predictions
based on evolutionary theory
() Anomalous. (
12: Mean Black-White-East Asian
differences not fully explained
by any model, not by a 100%
culture-only model, by a 100%
genetic-only model, or, with
precision, even by the 50%
The model of 50% genes-50%
environment may need to be
revised, perhaps to 80%
(0) Model as currently stated fails. Identifying
some large Gene
might make it viable.
Note. Key for scores: strong support: results confirmed a novel prediction first derived from theory and then tested; mild support:
results consistent with theory but not predicted from it; 0
neutral: results could not be predicted from theory so that it could be either
confirmed or disconfirmed; rejection: results predicted from theory disconfirmed. Because some diacritical tests have two elements, the
maximum possible support would be a score of 12
2 24 and maximum disconfirmation would be a score of
273 RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY
Mean Race–IQ Differences Are Found Worldwide (Section 3)
The mean Black–White IQ difference in the United States of 85 versus 100
can be, and has been, explained both by the hereditarian model (in terms of some
genetic difference) and by the culture-only model (in terms of nutrition, poverty,
SES, family structure, schooling, racism, and the legacy of slavery). Hence,
initially we were inclined to give both the hereditarian model and the culture-only
model a score of (). The hereditarian model, however, also predicted that the
same pattern would be found worldwide, with lower scores for sub-Saharan
Africa than for Black Americans, and that the differences would also be found on
culture-fair tests and on reaction time tasks that measure the speed and efficiency
with which the brain processes information (and which all children can perform
in less than 1 s). These predictions were confirmed. The culture-only hypothesis
is disconfirmed by the differences on culture-fair and reaction time tests. Nor can
the culture-only model easily explain why the East Asian average IQ of 106 is
higher than the average White IQ, including on these same speed-of-processing
tasks. Within the United States, the mean Black–White group difference in IQ has
not changed significantly over the past 100 years despite significant improvements
in the conditions of Black Americans. The same magnitude of difference is
observed as early as age 21⁄2 years. Our score for Section 3: hereditarian model
(); culture-only model (–).
Race–IQ Differences Are Most Pronounced on the More g-Loaded
Components of Tests and Least So on the Most Culturally Loaded Items
The hereditarian model made the novel prediction that the mean Black–White
group difference in IQ is not the result of idiosyncratic cultural peculiarities in this
or that test but would be more pronounced on highly g-loaded tests. Because the
prediction was confirmed, it counts as evidence for the hereditarian position while
also contradicting the prediction from the culture-only model that the differences
are due to culturally loaded tests. In South Africa, g loadings calculated on East
Indians predicted mean Black–White group differences, showing substantial
cross-cultural generalizability. A test’s g loading is the best predictor, not just of
its correlation with scholastic and workplace performance, but also of its correlation with reaction time measures, heritability coefficients determined from twin
studies, inbreeding depression scores calculated in children of cousin-marriages,
and neurological variables such as brain size, brain evoked potentials, brain pH
levels, brain glucose metabolism, and nerve conduction velocity. Thus, we conclude the evidence reviewed in Section 4 strongly supports the hereditarian model
() and argues against the culture-only model (–).
Race–IQ Differences Are Most Pronounced on the More Heritable
Components of Tests With Little or No Evidence of Race-Specific
Developmental Processes (Section 5)
Research based on this novel prediction from the hereditarian model established that (a) the heritability of IQ among Black groups is around 0.50, not
significantly different from that found in White groups; (b) there is no evidence
274 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
of the effect of any special minority-specific developmental process resulting
from the legacy of slavery or of White racism in large sets of archival correlation
matrices between background variables and outcome measures, or on relations
among subtests; (c) IQ subtests with higher heritabilities predict mean Black–
White group differences better than do subtests with lower heritabilities; and (d)
the shared environment type of variables usually proposed to explain group
differences (e.g., differences in income, schools) decrease in effect size with age.
Cross-cultural generality was demonstrated by the fact that the magnitude of
inbreeding depression scores on various subtests calculated on the Japanese in
Japan predicted the magnitude of Black–White differences in the United States.
Because the empirical results confirmed a novel prediction from the hereditarian
model () but disconfirmed several predictions from culture-only theory (–),
we scored Section 5: hereditarian model (); culture-only model (–).
Mean Race–IQ Differences Are Associated With Mean Brain Size
Differences (Section 6)
Overall, MRI studies show that brain size is related to IQ differences within
race. Moreover, the three-way pattern of group differences in average brain size
is detectable at birth. By adulthood, East Asians average 1 cubic inch more cranial
capacity than Whites, and Whites average 5 cubic inches more cranial capacity
than Blacks. These findings on group differences in average brain size have been
replicated using MRI, endocranial volume from empty skulls, wet brain weight at
autopsy, and external head size measures. They were acknowledged by Ulric
Neisser, Chair of the APA’s Task Force on intelligence, who noted that, with
respect to “racial differences in the mean measured sizes of skulls and brains (with
East Asians having the largest, followed by Whites and then Blacks) . . . there is
indeed a small overall trend” (Neisser, 1997, p. 80). The hereditarian model
explains these in terms of genetic differences. The culture-only position can
explain them in terms of nutrition, SES, or early cognitive stimulation. Adding the
East Asian data, however, literally “changes the shape of the table.” The hereditarian model posits that if East Asians average higher IQs than do Whites, then
they must also average larger brains than Whites, and that perhaps both the higher
IQ and the larger brain are most parsimoniously explained in terms of the natural
selection experienced in colder climates during human evolution (). The
culture-only position has yet to explain both the higher IQ and the larger brain
size of East Asians, given that these groups have also been subjected to prejudice
in White societies or severe malnutrition in their homelands. We scored Section
6: hereditarian model (); culture-only model (–).
Mean Race Differences in IQ Remain Following Transracial
Adoption (Section 7)
Transracial adoption studies provide one of the best methods for resolving the
question of group differences in mean IQ. The above-average IQ scores of Black
adoptees at age 7 confirmed the culture-only predictions. The results of the
follow-up testing at age 17 were more ambiguous. The hereditarian model
predicted that when the longitudinal study was carried out, the Black–White
difference would emerge (based on the increasing size of the genetic effect on IQ
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 275
with age), and this is one interpretation of the data, though a culture-only
interpretation is also plausible. However, support for the hereditarian model again
comes from adding the East Asian data to the mix. Korean and Vietnamese
children adopted into White homes, even though as babies many had been
hospitalized for malnutrition, nonetheless grew to have IQs 10 or more points
higher than their adoptive national norms. The culture-only model cannot explain
that finding. Further, it argues against the culture-only hypothesis that the high
performance of East Asian children is due to “trying harder” or other cultural
values emphasized by East Asian families. Our score for Section 7: hereditarian
model (); culture-only model (–).
Studies of Racial Admixture Reflect Mean Black–White IQ
Differences (Section 8)
Both the hereditarian and the culture-only model can explain why groups of
lighter skinned African Americans and the (also lighter skinned) mixed-race
“Coloreds” of South Africa have average IQs between those of (for the most part)
unmixed groups of Blacks and Whites. Both models can also explain the fact that
the degree of White admixture is correlated with brain weight at autopsy. The
culture-only position does so in terms of societal discrimination based on skin
color as well as its possible cascading effects on nutrition and health (); the
hereditarian model does so in terms of the hypothesized genetic difference in
average IQ and its correlations with race and skin color (). Some evidence
against the culture-only position comes from studying the misclassified adoptees
in the Minnesota Transracial Adoption Study (–). The expectancy effects hypothesis, that adoptive parents’ beliefs about their child’s racial background influence
the child’s intellectual development, is not supported by the finding that the mean
IQ score for 12 children wrongly believed by their adoptive parents to have had
two Black biological parents was about the same as that of the 56 children
correctly believed by their adoptive parents to have had one Black and one White
biological parent. While the number of children is small, this conclusion is
supported by Rowe’s study in which 119 mixed-race children were selected as
“looking African American” but their IQ scores also turned out to be intermediate.
Our score for Section 8: hereditarian model (); culture-only model (0).
IQs Show Regression Toward Predicted Racial Means (Section 9)
The phenomenon of regression to the mean is predicted from basic genetic
theory and has been documented for a number of physical traits in humans and in
other species. The hereditarian model applied this reasoning to IQ studies to make
a novel prediction about the amount of regression across the whole IQ distribution
and various degrees of kinship. The results showed that the children of Black
parents of IQ 115 regressed toward the Black average IQ of 85, whereas children
of White parents of IQ 115 regressed toward the White average IQ of 100. The
converse occurred at the low end of the scale. Even stronger support for the
hereditarian position came from sibling data. The regression lines for both Blacks
and for Whites showed no significant departure from linearity throughout the
range of IQ from 50 to 150. A failure of this prediction would have argued against
the hereditarian model but would have been neutral for the culture-only model.
276 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
The predictions from the hereditarian model were tested and confirmed. The
culture-only theory must argue that environmental effects or chance variation
mimics the predicted genetic effects. We scored Section 9: hereditarian model
(); culture-only model (0).
Mean Race–IQ Differences Are Paralleled by a Matrix of Other Traits
and Behaviors (Section 10)
A suite of over 60 life-history variables, including rate of two-egg twinning,
speed of maturation and longevity, personality and temperament, family stability
and crime, sexual behavior and fertility, as well as intelligence and brain size,
have been identified on which East Asian and African groups consistently average
at the two ends of a continuum, with European groups intermediate, regardless of
where they presently live. This race– behavior matrix constitutes a series of novel
predictions derived from an evolutionary theory of the origin of races that were
tested and confirmed. The culture-only model has only partially addressed this
race– behavior matrix, with (sometimes contradictory) supplementary hypotheses.
Our score for Section 10: hereditarian model (); culture-only model (–).
Mean Race–IQ Differences and Human Evolution (Section 11)
One theory of human evolution argues that the farther north the ancestral
human populations migrated out of Africa, about 100,000 years ago, the more
they encountered the cognitively demanding problems of gathering and storing
food, gaining shelter, making clothes, and raising children successfully during
prolonged winters. (This is not the only theory of human evolution, nor do all who
endorse it concur with our interpretation.) Ecological pressures selected for larger
brains, slower rates of maturation, lower levels of sex hormone, and all the other
life-history characteristics. From this perspective, the data from both human
genetics and human evolution mesh with the race– behavior matrix (). Genetic– evolutionary theory acknowledges factors such as East Asian family
strength or African poverty, but as effects rather than causes. The consistency of
the pattern of traits in Table 3 also supports the argument, as do genetic analyses,
against the view that race is only a social construction based on a few salient traits
such as skin color (Crow, 2002; Risch et al., 2002). Our score for Section 11:
hereditarian model (); culture-only model (–).
Culture-Only Hypotheses Fail to Account for Mean Race–IQ
Differences (Section 12)
This section reviewed a number of well-known culture-only hypotheses for
the mean Black–White group difference in IQ. The most widely accepted is that
they are due to differences in SES. Adjusting for SES, however, only reduces the
mean Black–White IQ difference by about one third. Other culture-only hypotheses, such as the effects of segregation, bias in tests, or the consequences of being
a minority in a White society are not supported by our review of the evidence. The
Head Start program in the United States has produced some modest gains in
increasing school retention and graduation rates among White groups, though not
among Black groups (Currie & Thomas, 1995). Neither the narrowing of the
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 277
Black–White social conditions nor the Flynn effect (i.e., the secular rise in IQ) has
narrowed the Black–White IQ gap. However, the Flynn effect, based on increases
in nutrition, health care, and intellectual stimulation, does appear to support the
culture-only model (), but it is neutral (hence 0) for the hereditarian model
because large environmental effects (up to 50% of the variance) are compatible
with large genetic effects (also up to 50% of the variance). The finding in Table
4 that the secular increase did not cluster with g and its biological correlates,
however, may support the hereditarian model. Because the real area of conflict is
the cause of the mean racial group difference in cognitive ability, the hereditarian
hypothesis is not disproven by the Flynn effect, whatever its cause(s). Overall, on
Section 12, we gave the hereditarian model a score of (0) and the culture-only
Section 14: Progressive Research Leads to Provisional Truth
Our conclusion, that the Black–White IQ difference is partly heritable, accords with previous analytic reviews of this literature. Loehlin et al. (1975)
concluded that Black–White IQ differences “probably” reflected “genetic differences among the groups” (p. 238). P. E. Vernon (1979) tabulated 30 main topics,
each scored on a 4-point scale, and concluded that “although the total number of
items favoring genetic influences (G and G?) is roughly balanced by the number
of environmental points (E and E?), more of the highly convincing items are G
rather than E” (p. 319). The survey of over 1,000 experts in behavioral genetics
and psychometrics by Snyderman and Rothman (1987) also found that a plurality
believed the Black–White IQ difference “to be a product of both genetic and
environmental variation” (p. 141). However, there are also notable statements to
the contrary. The APA Task Force on intelligence, for example, concluded
“[t]here is certainly no support for a genetic interpretation” (Neisser et al., 1996,
p. 97). Likewise, Nisbett (1998) reached the conclusion that “the most relevant
studies provide no evidence for the genetic superiority of either race” (p. 101).
In our opinion, the present review, similar to those of Loehlin et al. (1975) and
Vernon (1979) earlier, should be given greater weight because they surveyed a
greater range of evidence. Examining all the documentation allows a greater
chance of finding accurate explanations than does selecting a few items from the
whole. The 10 categories of predictions reviewed in Table 5 were derived from
the “hard core” assumptions of the two competing research programs, each of
which tries to explain the Black–White IQ difference (see Section 2). Based on
Lakatos’s (1970, 1978) criteria for evaluating research programs, and a philosophy of science methodology that evaluates rival theories by generating multiple
strong inferences and assessing the preponderance and the consilience of many
lines of evidence, we believe the hereditarian theory has satisfied the criteria for
a “progressive” research program, whereas the culture-only program has not. Both
have drawn implications to make numerous, testable, novel predictions, but we
found the hereditarian predictions were mostly confirmed, whereas those from
culture-only theory mostly were not.
Some attempts to salvage the culture-only theory have been problematic.
Suggestions that “White flight” undermined desegregation and busing programs
so that “true” integration has not yet been properly tried, that Head Start programs
278 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
still have not been fully funded, that culture-fair tests were not really fair, that the
sensory deprivation and race-of-examiner hypotheses were of only minor significance, or that being Black in America is really a matter of caste, not class or race,
fall short of being strong inference. Urbach (1974b, p. 237) dismissed such
claims, and that the mean Black–White IQ difference is a system problem, and
that caste and class differences are complex, subtle, and attitudinal rather than
grossly econometric, as “pseudo-scientific maneuvers,” noting that “it is intellectually improper to obscure facts by continually retreating behind the trivial truth
that the world is complex [italics added]”.
We believe the burden of proof must shift to those who argue for a 100%
culture-only position. For example, they need to address why, if important
minority-specific developmental processes such as stereotype threat (Steele, 1997)
and racial stigma (Loury, 2002) exert such a powerful influence on school
achievement, the correlation matrices representing developmental processes can
be so similar across ethnic and racial groups (Section 5). They need to explain
why, if gene– environment interactions are as widespread and difficult to disentangle as often claimed (e.g., Block, 1995), identical twins reared apart grow to be
so similar (Bouchard, 1996; Bouchard & Loehlin, 2001). Some culture-only
hypotheses are too ambiguous to be tested.
A conundrum for theorists of all persuasions, however, is that there is too little
evidence of any environmental effects. The hereditarian model of Black–White IQ
differences proposed in Section 2 (50% genetic and 50% environmental), far from
precluding environmental factors, requires they be found. Although evidence in
Sections 3 to 11 provided strong support for the genetic component of the model,
evidence from Section 12 was unable to identify the environmental component.
On the basis of the present evidence, perhaps the genetic component must be
given greater weight and the environmental component correspondingly reduced. In fact, Jensen’s (1998b, p. 443) latest statement of the hereditarian model,
termed the default hypothesis, is that genetic and cultural factors carry the exact
same weight in causing the mean Black–White difference in IQ as they do in
causing individual differences in IQ, about 80% genetic–20% environmental by
One current challenge, therefore, is to identify significant sources of nongenetic variance. It is hoped that the recent models of gene– culture correlation put
forward by Dickens and Flynn (2001, 2002) to explain the paradox of large
heritability estimates and large environmental effects mark a new trend in the
race–IQ debate. Their models accept the empirical reality of both genetic and
environmental influences. Within Whites, most of the nongenetic variance appears to result from a small number of random adverse effects such as prenatal
problems, complications in the birth process, maternal health, and childhood
disease and trauma (Jensen, 1997).
Another challenge is to explain the pattern of covariant traits shown in Table
3 and described in Section 10. Several life-history theorists working from an
evolutionary perspective have postulated that there is some latent dimension on
which “unpredictable environments” and “scarcity of resources” can move individuals up or down because traits need to be coherent and harmonized, rather than
having some go to one pole while others go to the other (see Rushton, 2000, pp.
252–255, 271–273, for discussion). Most life-history explanations that have
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 279
focused on behavioral rather than biological traits have typically avoided the race
differences and have hypothesized postnatal events such as father absence, parental divorce, and sexual and physical abuse as causes rather than effects (e.g.,
Belsky, Steinberg, & Draper, 1991; Chisholm, 1999). However, the fact that brain
size differences show up at birth, as do those in gestation time and speed of
physical maturation, implies some prenatal and biological mediation.
Writing from a life-history perspective, Mealey (1990) suggested that the
wider pattern of racial-group differences described in Section 10 was “interesting
and worth pursuing, but . . . may be environmentally contingent rather than
genetic” (p. 387). Nyborg (1994, pp. 146 –149) hypothesized that an estradialtestosterone hormonal trade-off existed, with Blacks averaging the most testosterone, East Asians the least, and Whites in between. Eysenck (1991) proposed a
nutritional deficiency hypothesis. Lynn (1990; Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002) also
proposed a crucial role for nutrition, finding that the heavier twin at birth typically
has a larger head and brain size, as well as a higher IQ in adolescence, and that
infants fed breast milk typically average higher IQs (8.3 points) at age 8 than those
fed formulas. Masters (1997, p. 142) put forward a “neurotoxity hypothesis,” in
which race differences in pre- and postnatal exposure to metal pollutants interact
with stress, poor diet, alcohol, and drugs. He pointed out that breast-feeding
reduces the infants’ exposure to metal pollutants while providing infants the long
chains of proteins necessary for brain development. Mothers from low socioeconomic groups typically do not breast-feed their infants, and Black mothers are
only one third as likely to breast-feed their infants as White mothers (see also
Jensen, 1998b, pp. 506 –508).
Section 15: Implications for Public Policy
It is a widely accepted fact of behavioral science that there is great variability
within each racial group and there is an ethical consensus that we treat people as
individuals. Although no specific policies necessarily follow from knowing about
the causes of group differences, they may serve as guides to action on some
issues. The conclusion reached in Sections 13 and 14—that about 50% of the
variance in mean Black–White group differences in IQ is due to heredity—is
compatible with a wide range of recommendations, from programs for the
disadvantaged and laissez-faire approaches to selection and opportunity grouping
in certain educational and vocational situations.
In The Bell Curve, Herrnstein and Murray (1994) offered some specific policy
recommendations based on their conclusions about genetic variation and IQ,
which are generally concordant with political conservatism, such as scaling back
affirmative action, reducing the intrusiveness of government, and returning to
individualism. Most political conservatives, however, support these recommendations, no matter how the nature–nurture question is “resolved,” an argument
with which Murray agreed (Miele, 1995). Arthur Jensen, also writing from the
hereditarian perspective, recently opined that giving primacy to individual rights
maximizes fairness, which he pragmatically defined as the ability of each individual to reach his or her full potential (Miele, 2002). He therefore argued for a
restructuring of the educational system by tailoring methods to fit the individual,
280 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
and letting the group outcomes become what they may, rather than allowing
claims of differential performance to justify group rights over individual rights.
A multifaceted approach to the policy implications of the hereditarian conclusion about mean Black–White differences is required. Many policy preferences
are not at all affected by our scientific conclusion. Granting equal rights under the
law and whether to provide social welfare, for example, are based more on moral
and political philosophy than on research findings. Still other policy issues (e.g.,
affirmative action, the value of diversity) might merit reconsideration based on the
degree to which heredity as opposed to culture turns out to be the causal agent.
Finally, certain policies do follow from our conclusions, such as the need for
greater equality and neutrality in the treatment of the culture-only and genetic
hypothesis within both the scientific and policy arenas, and in researching and
ameliorating the biological basis of group differences in IQ, health, and so on.
Two fundamentally different, policy-organizing models typically used to
explain why racial groups differ in average rate of socially valued outcomes
should be examined, specifically, with reference to the issues of race relations,
educational and psychological testing, health, and conflicting worldviews about
the nature of human nature.
Discrimination or Distribution?
Herrnstein (1990) termed the two fundamentally different models put forth to
explain why racial groups differ in their average rate of socially valued outcomes
the distributional model and the discrimination model. Each may be partially
correct. The discrimination model focuses on social and institutional practices that
discriminate against members of one group (or favor members of another), thus
tilting the playing field. It assumes that in the absence of discrimination, outcomes
should be about equal for all populations; thus evidence of differential performance in itself constitutes evidence of discrimination. Factors hypothesized under
this model that cause mean race differences include relative poverty, anti-Black
bias, a lack of access to legitimate channels of upward mobility, and dysfunctional
family organization growing out of the legacy of slavery (see Sections 12 and 13).
The discrimination model has also been used to explain the overrepresentation of some groups in valued outcomes. Blacks are said to excel in sports such
as boxing, basketball, track and field, and football because other channels of
upward mobility are closed to them (Hoberman, 1997). As early as the 1920s,
sociologists explained the underrepresentation of East Asians in U.S. crime
statistics as being due to the East Asian “ghetto.” This self-imposed segregation
was seen as a response to external prejudice, which protected its members from
the disruptive tendencies of the outside society.
The distributional model, on the other hand, explains the overlapping of the
racial groups and their differing averages in terms of their mean group characteristics—for example, the mean differences in heritable IQ and possibly other
traits too. However, it could also fit Sowell’s (1994) theory of socialization
through subtle cultural traditions, or Loury’s (2002) theory of racial stigma, which
postulates a unique type of gene– culture correlation in which people react to
others on the basis of physical appearance. Other factors hypothesized to underlie
a distributional model include deep-rooted cultural values and family structures
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 281
endemic to certain populations, as well as biological variables such as body type,
hormonal levels, and personality and temperament. Thus according to the distributional model, population differences are expected to occur and to do so
The research supporting the role of heredity in human behavior implies that
the distributional model is more correct than the discrimination model. It explains
some of the mean Black–White group difference in IQ-related outcomes in terms
of the differential distribution of the genes for general mental ability. For example, IQ is a significant predictor of such socially disadvantageous outcomes as
dropping out of high school, being unemployed, being divorced within 5 years of
marriage, having an illegitimate child, living in poverty, being on welfare, and
incarceration. In today’s technological society, everyday life itself is a type of IQ
test (see R. A. Gordon, 1997; Gottfredson, 1997; Herrnstein & Murray, 1994). On
all of the above measures, the group means favor Whites over Blacks. Of course,
this does not deny that many other attributes are also important for success in life.
Some have suggested that we cannot expect members of ethnic groups to
simply accept the genetic component in the mean-group differences in IQ and
other traits. Yet, with regard to individuals within families, we do acknowledge
that some siblings are more intelligent, more athletic, more physically attractive,
or more socially charming than others. We also accept that some families are
genetically more gifted in certain areas than other families. We should, therefore,
by extension, be able to generalize to all the members of the human family. If
viewed against the backdrop that group differences are simply aggregated individual differences, the former may be easier to accept than has hitherto been
Although the hereditarian model may not specify particular policies, it does
argue against the feasibility of some programs based on the discrimination model.
One very socially significant example is that a demonstration of differential racial
performance (good or bad) could not, by itself, be offered as proof of racial
discrimination because, as the evidence reviewed in this article demonstrated,
genetic factors play a role in producing these differences. Rather, the burden
would be on the plaintiffs to prove that the defendants had discriminated on the
basis of race and not educational or vocational performance associated with race.
However, the view that one segment of the population is largely to blame for
the problems of another segment can be even more harmful to racial harmony, by
first producing demands for compensation and thereby inviting a backlash. Equating group disparities in success with racism on the part of the more successful
group guarantees mutual resentment. As overt discrimination fades, still large
racial disparities in success lead Blacks to conclude that White racism is not only
pervasive but also insidious because it is so unobservable and “unconscious.”
Whites resent that nonfalsifiable accusation and the demands to compensate
Blacks for harm they do not believe they caused. Misplaced blame can also
endanger institutions. Objective standards of merit that yield racially uneven
outcomes when evenly applied, whether in college admissions, hiring, or day-today operations of the legal system, have increasingly come under attack—for
282 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
example, by critical legal theorists as inherently pro-White and hence illegitimate.
Although the distributional model does not rule out affirmative action or compensation-type initiatives, it does reduce the impact of arguments in their favor
based on an exclusive adherence to the discrimination model (Gottfredson, 2000;
Educational, Vocational, and Psychological Testing
Because the means for Blacks and Hispanics are lower on tests of academic
and vocational achievement, such as the SAT, the General Aptitude Test Battery,
and the ASVAB, than those for Whites and East Asians, some have claimed the
tests are racially biased. Yet the evidence reviewed and the distributional model
predict that such differences will occur worldwide (see Section 3). This is
supported by the fact that these tests have about equal predictive validity for all
groups who speak the same language and have been schooled in the culture of the
Ethnic disparities in cognitive performance are not just “an American dilemma” (Myrdal, 1944) but are found around the world. In India, members of the
higher castes obtain higher mean scores and examination marks than do those of
the lower castes. In Malaysia, members of the Chinese and East Indian racial
minorities have higher mean scores than does the majority Malay population. In
South Africa, members of the White, East Indian, and Colored population groups
obtain higher mean scores than does the indigenous Black African majority
(Klitgaard, 1986; Lynn & Vanhanen, 2002; Nell, 2000). These facts present a
challenge for policymakers attempting to design educational, vocational, and
The apparent failure of equal opportunity programs to enable all groups in
society to perform equally scholastically or even to narrow the gap in the test
scores used in selection for higher education, jobs, and the Armed Forces has
caused some to disparage psychological testing. Jensen (2000) proposed emphasizing face validity in test construction by making item content more obviously
relevant to the purpose of selection and thereby improve the public’s perception
of the utility of tests. An example would be having all the items in a test used to
select police personnel involve a typical crime scenario rather than abstract
analogies (though a correct solution would still require logical reasoning).
More generally, there is a need to educate the public about the true nature of
individual and group differences, genetics, and evolutionary biology. Ultimately,
the public must accept the pragmatic reality that some groups will be overrepresented and other groups underrepresented in various socially valued outcomes.
Organizations such as the APA could play a critical role in changing the zeitgeist.
To do so will not be easy, for it requires overcoming deeply ingrained biases that
operate at several levels of the APA (Redding, 2001). The standard models of
social science from the 1930s to the present have assumed a tabula rasa perspective that precludes any analysis of hereditary group differences.
The expectation of average group differences includes the statistical certainty
that it does not apply to all individuals, a point that can easily be overlooked.
Thus, any part of a general program of education must include distributional
statistics so that people also learn not to stereotype or overgeneralize. This may
RACE DIFFERENCES IN COGNITIVE ABILITY 283
not be as difficult a task as might be supposed. Even kindergarten children are
capable of learning that although boys are typically taller than girls, many girls are
taller than the average boy.
Health, Medical Genetics, and Pharmaco-Anthropology
The distributional model also relates to questions raised about bias in the
health system based on ethnic differences in rates of certain diseases (Risch et al.,
2002). From an epidemiological perspective, failure to take ethnicity into account
can confound a study, particularly if the disease in question is more common in
one ethnic group than another. The incidence of hypertension, prostate cancer, and
other diseases is higher in Blacks than Whites. To cite a specific example, the
infant mortality rate of American Blacks is twice that of American Whites, and
this difference remains significant after controlling for SES in each race.
Despite overlap, drug and food effects often differ sufficiently to test for them
independently. One well-known example of the harm done by ignoring group
differences involves lactose intolerance. The ability of adults to digest milk easily
is largely limited to Caucasoids, and a lack of this knowledge may have increased
mortality among the needy in Third World countries that were inadvertently
provided with milk products to alleviate hunger.
Some physicians are becomingly increasingly concerned that assuming
Blacks are identical to Whites neglects the problems faced by Blacks. For
example, 30% of the people who have kidney failure and undergo dialysis are
Black, but estimates are that fewer than 10% of organ donors are Black. There is
also evidence that Blacks fare better when given organs donated by other Blacks.
Another example is that it now appears that genetics may underlie the increased
rates and levels of hypertension in Blacks. Black males tend to have higher blood
pressure and increased rates of cardiovascular disease, including strokes, than
White males, but the cause is widely debated. Some evidence suggests that Black
males experience a faster heart rate when performing moderate exercise, although
the pulse rates of the Black and White males when resting show no significant
difference. Blacks have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than Whites, who in
turn have a higher rate than East Asians, for which the underlying cause may be
the mean group differences in testosterone level (Polednak, 1989; Risch et al.,
A prevailing worldview throughout history has been that economic, cultural,
and other environmental forces are the preeminent causes of group and individual
behavior. Modern social science has typically taken this perspective and promoted
the idea that all babies are born more or less equally endowed in intelligence and
learning ability. It followed therefore that inequalities were the result of social,
economic, and political forces. This worldview generated many strategies for
intervention in the home, the workplace, the mass media, the criminal justice
system, and even the entire social– economic system. Some have been effective
and are almost universally accepted, whereas others have failed and produced
only shattered expectations, resentment, and interethnic hostility.
The major policy implication of the research reviewed here is that adopting an
284 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
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ideals. As E. O. Wilson (1978) aptly noted: “We are not compelled to believe in
biological uniformity in order to affirm freedom and dignity” (p. 52). He went on
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294 RUSHTON AND JENSEN
THIRTY YEARS OF RESEARCH ON RACE