Children's performance on Raven's Coloured progressive matrices in Portugal: The Flynn effect

Irene P. Carvalho, Ana Costa, Sofia Silva, Bárbara Moreira, Agostinho Almeida, André Moreira-Rosário, António Guerra, Bruno Peixoto, Cristina Delerue-Matos, Diana Sintra, Diogo Pestana, Edgar Pinto, Francisca de Castro Mendes, Inês Martins, João Costa Leite, José Carlos Caldas, Manuel Fontoura, Maria Luz Maia, Pedro Queirós, Roxana MoreiraSandra Leal, Sónia Norberto, Vera da Costa, Virgínia Cruz Fernandes, Elisa Keating, Luís F. Azevedo, Conceição Calhau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The goal of this study was to examine how IQ changes (the Flynn effect) among school-aged children in Portugal behaved over a period of 25 years (1991, 2008 and 2016) that registered major economic transformations in the country. The country's initial move to prosperity was followed by a recent move into recession, which might affect IQ gains. Changes in IQ by level of intellectual ability were also inspected. Children's scores on Raven's Coloured Progressive Matrices in Portugal were compared between the years 1991, 2008 and 2016. Differences in IQs were calculated according to Flynn's (1987) procedures. In addition, percentile distributions of children's scores in the period of economic growth (between 1991 and 2008) were compared for inspection of IQ changes across levels of intellectual ability. Results showed an IQ gain of 2.6 points per decade from 1991 to 2008, followed by a smaller increase (of 1.7 points per decade) from 2008 to 2016, with negative gains observed for seven-, eight- and 10-year-old children. The gains in IQ from 1991 to 2008 have occurred mainly for lower levels of intellectual ability. IQ relative gains accompanied the country's economic fluctuations, and children in lower levels of intellectual ability seemed to have benefitted the most from the economic growth. The trends in the country are suggestive of the influence of economic fluctuations on family dynamics, which, although moderated by education, have consequences for children's cognitive development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101485
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • Fluid reasoning
  • Flynn effect
  • Intelligence
  • School-aged children
  • Time trends


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