Improving Intelligence by Knowing About Intelligence

Lec­tur­ing stu­dents on the fact that gen­er­al intel­li­gence can be improved and that cer­tain races and genders are not nat­ur­ally more intel­li­gent than oth­ers (in-line with cur­rent research) can improve test scores–especially for mem­bers of the groups typ­ic­ally thought of as hav­ing lim­ited intel­li­gence.

It’s not just the­or­et­ic­al: the find­ings were applied suc­cess­fully to schools in New York City, show­ing that “real­iz­ing that one’s intel­li­gence may be improved may actu­ally improve one’s intel­li­gence”.

Des­pite a lot of evid­ence to the con­trary, many people believe that intel­li­gence is fixed, and, moreover, that some racial and social groups are inher­ently smarter than oth­ers. Merely evok­ing these ste­reo­types about the intel­lec­tu­al inferi­or­ity of these groups (such as women and Blacks) is enough to harm the aca­dem­ic per­fo­mance of mem­bers of these groups. […]

Yet social psy­cho­lo­gists [have] taught Afric­an Amer­ic­an and European Amer­ic­an col­lege stu­dents to think of intel­li­gence as change­able, rather than fixed – a les­son that many psy­cho­lo­gic­al stud­ies sug­gests is true. Stu­dents in a con­trol group did not receive this mes­sage. Those stu­dents who learned about IQ’s mal­le­ab­il­ity improved their grades more than did stu­dents who did not receive this mes­sage, and also saw aca­dem­ics as more import­ant than did stu­dents in the con­trol group.