Predicting and retrodicting intelligence between childhood and old age in the 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947

Ian J. Deary*, Caroline E. Brett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In studies of cognitive ageing it is useful and important to know how stable are the individual differences in cognitive ability from childhood to older age, and also to be able to estimate (retrodict) prior cognitive ability differences from those in older age. Here we contribute to these aims with new data from a follow-up study of the 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947 (original N. = 1208). The sample had cognitive, educational, social, and occupational data collected almost annually from age 11 to 27. years. Whereas previous long-term follow-up studies of the Scottish mental surveys are based upon group-administered cognitive tests at a mean age of 11. years, the present sample each had an individually-administered revised Binet test. We traced them for vital status in older age, and some agreed to take several mental tests at age 77. years (N. = 131). The National Adult Reading Test at age 77 correlated.72 with the Terman-Merrill revision of the Binet Test at age 11. Adding the Moray House Test No. 12 score from age 11 and educational information took the multiple R to.81 between youth and older age. The equivalent multiple R for fluid general intelligence was.57. When the NART from age 77 was the independent variable (retrodictor) along with educational attainment, the multiple R with the Terman-Merrill IQ at age 11 was.75. No previous studies of the stability of intelligence from childhood to old age, or of the power of the NART to retrodict prior intelligence, have had individually-administered IQ data from youth. About two-thirds, at least, of the variation in verbal ability in old age can be captured by cognitive and educational information from youth. Non-verbal ability is less well predicted. A short test of pronunciation-the NART-and brief educational information can capture well over half of the variation in IQ scores obtained 66. years earlier.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2015


  • Ageing
  • Intelligence
  • IQ
  • Longitudinal
  • Scottish Mental Survey


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting and retrodicting intelligence between childhood and old age in the 6-Day Sample of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this