Intelligence can be used to make a more equitable society but only when properly defined and applied

Latasha R. Holden, Sara A. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the US, undeniable evidence shows that socioeconomic inequities explain a high pro-portion of individual differences in school achievement. Although not all countries show this same effect due to socioeconomic status, it is consistently found that social inequities lead to achievement gaps. These achievement gaps then manifest into trajectories that set some individuals on a path of lower incomes, poorer health and higher mortality, lower wellbeing, and other poor adult outcomes. Like James Flynn so handily reminded the scientific literature that achievement gaps are explainable by environmental factors, the inequities we see around the world are based on environments some children are exposed to. In his work, Flynn stated his belief that the suppression of scientific work on intelligence would continue to lead to social inequities. We wish to take this idea and move it forward. We believe that the scientific construct of intelligence plays a key role in helping create a more equitable society through science. We also believe that the poor perception of intelligence, rooted in historical realities, means that it will continue to be misunderstood, feared, and misused, limiting how effective it could be in helping to close gaps in achievement and in creating a more equitable society.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number57
JournalJournal of Intelligence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Inequity
  • Intelligence
  • Social issues

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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