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The Social Ecology of Intelligence on a Caribbean Island

Gerhard Meisenberg, Elliott Lawless, Eleonor Lambert and Anne Newton


Published: 2006/06/01


Many social consequences and correlates of test intelligence have been described in modern industrialized societies, but we do not know which of these are culture-dependent and which (if any) are culturally invariant. The present study describes the relationships of test intelligence with social outcomes in the Caribbean island nation of Dominica. In samples of 372 young people (age 18-25) and 352 old people (age 51-62), we find that IQ is related to high income and low unemployment. In the old generation, high test intelligence is also related to the habit of marrying and of having one's children with only one partner. Among women but not men in both generations, high verbal ability is related to low fertility. We find a positive correlation between verbal ability and religiosity, which is not mediated by education or parental socioeconomic status. High IQ predicts low subjective well-being in those regression models that control for the effects of income. The results are discussed with reference to findings from economically and cognitively more developed societies, and related to historical trends and cultural evolution.

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