Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Video Games Make You Smart

I'll stick with posting about psychology, since school/work is all I've been doing lately.

I came across an article (Teasdale & Owen, 2000) which looked at trends in intelligence scores over the last few decades. As you may know, intelligence has been steadily going up over time. This study looked at a Danish population, to see if IQ is still going up. The graph above shows what they found. It's not going up as much as it used to, except visuo-spatial abilities (working with shapes in your head), which continue to increase.

Why is this? The researchers guess: "..it is tempting to speculate that [...] it has been growing exposure to video games and geometrically configured computer screens via operating systems, applications programs and the Internet, that have particularly accelerated the development of visuo-spatial abilities during the last decade."

So there you have it. Contrary to what some believe, video games are not responsible for the downfall of society; it's the opposite. Video games are making everybody smarter. Parents: start your kids off on the right foot. Get those toddlers playing Grand Theft Auto right away.

This also gives me an idea for my Ph.D. dissertation: "Does Playing Video Games All Day for a Year Make People Smarter? A Self-Administered Case Study. By Phronk."

Here's the full reference for the article I'm talking about:

Teasdale, T., & Owen, D. (2000). Forty-year secular trends in cognitive abilities. Intelligence, 28, 115 - 120.


Anonymous said...

I know the World of Warcraft didn't make me smarter, cause I haven't played in 7 months and still continue to pay my monthly dues cause I'm too "stupid" to cancel my membership.

Timmy said...

thats smart!

Anonymous said...

I'd always heard that women have a better spatial sense than men. I kinda figured it was from constantly trying to determine if that's REALLY 6 inches or not.

Anonymous said...

Master Cheif could write your forward.

sarah said...

IQ tests don't really measure any innate quotient or quantity of 'intelligence' though, do they? There is cultural bias implicit in the in any question or test and it's all about who decided what things you have to know to be "intelligent." Sorry for the horribly anal comment. My discipline is about analysing discourse and power. You know I love you and think you are smart for playing lots of video games all the time.

Phronk said...

Well, IQ tests measure something. And that something fits with everyday definitions of intelligence, it predicts success in a wide variety of tasks, and correlates with a shitload of other abilities.

Whether it's innate or not, and whether one test can cover all cultures, are seperate questions. And like all things, it's not as simple as "yes" or "no".

People can be all politically correct and say that everyone is the same, but it just ain't true. Some peoples' brains work better than others', and scientists have found a way of measuring these differences.

The thing to keep in mind, though, is that it's just one aspect of who a person is, and while IQ may have predictive value for groups and averages, it has little application to the life of an individual person.

sarah said...

I can buy that... I do agree with you that some people are innately better at some things than other things for sure. I'm not trying to be politically correct, I just question the method of an IQ test as measuring "intelligence"... maybe there should be a qualifier? I don't know. I'm also still watching the south park and Richard Dawkins is hitting on Mrs. Garrison and I'm laughing so maybe I'm not making sense. :)