Is education associated with improvements in general cognitive ability, or in specific skills?

Stuart J. Ritchie*, Timothy C. Bates, Ian J. Deary

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Previous research has indicated that education influences cognitive development, but it is unclear what, precisely, is being improved. Here, we tested whether education is associated with cognitive test score improvements via domain-general effects on general cognitive ability (g), or via domain-specific effects on particular cognitive skills. We conducted structural equation modeling on data from a large (n = 1,091), longitudinal sample, with a measure of intelligence at age 11 years and 10 tests covering a diverse range of cognitive abilities taken at age 70. Results indicated that the association of education with improved cognitive test scores is not mediated by g, but consists of direct effects on specific cognitive skills. These results suggest a decoupling of educational gains from increases in general intellectual capacity. (PsycINFO Database Record

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-582
Number of pages10
JournalDevelopmental Psychology
Volume51
Issue number5
Early online date16 Mar 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

Keywords

  • Cognitive development
  • Education
  • G factor
  • Intelligence
  • Structural equation modeling

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