Some of the material in is restricted to members of the community. By logging in, you may be able to gain additional access to certain collections or items. If you have questions about access or logging in, please use the form on the Contact Page.
Secular gains in intelligence test scores have perplexed researchers since they were documented by Flynn (1984, 1987), but few have attempted to understand them as a cognitive phenomenon. Gains are most pronounced on seemingly "culture-free" tests, which require analogical reasoning in the near-absence of familiar content, prompting Flynn (2007) to attribute rising scores to improvements in abstract reasoning conferred by a 20th-century emphasis on scientific thinking. Building upon Flynn's theory and Singley and Anderson's (1989) conceptualization of transfer as common productions, I propose that recent-born individuals have developed a relatively general procedural knowledge structure, or "weak method" (Singley & Anderson, 1989, p. 230), for analogical mapping. I test the theory first with archival data, and then with think-aloud verbal reports obtained while participants from two cohorts completed the Raven's Matrices, the test with the largest Flynn effect. Consistent with the theory, it is found that individuals from the earlier cohort are less able to map objects corresponding to higher levels of relational abstraction. Previous research suggests this weak method may be cultivated by learning to solve a wide variety of the kinds of unfamiliar problems that require an initial process of working through an example. The work identifies a plausible cognitive mechanism for the Flynn effect, makes testable predictions, reveals new insights into the cognition of matrix reasoning, and highlights the indispensible role of cognitive theories in advancing and testing cross-cultural generalizations.
Analogical reasoning, Flynn effect, Intelligence, IQ
Date of Defense
October 25, 2011.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Psychology in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Neil Charness, Professor Directing Dissertation; Anne Barrett, University Representative; Colleen Kelley, Committee Member; Walter Boot, Committee Member; Carol Connor, Committee Member.
Florida State University
Use and Reproduction
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s). The copyright in theses and dissertations completed at Florida State University is held by the students who author them.