Guy Madison: "Intelligence and Reaction Time"

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Blåsenhus - 12:228
  • Organiser: Department of Psychology
  • Contact person: Gustaf Gredebäck
  • Seminarium

The General Seminar

Guy Madison, Umeå University: "Intelligence and Reaction Time: Phenotypic and Genetic Correlations, and Implications for Measuring Secular Changes in Intelligence"

Intelligence has been associated with time and mental speed at least since Francis Galton’s studies in the 1880s. Correlations are small, typically 0.2-0.4, which has probably quenched the interest for pursuing them further. However, indications of both increasing (i.e. Flynn effect) and decreasing intelligence in populations have put this issue to the fore. It is impossible to directly compare the IQs of different populations, such as the present one with one measured 50 years ago, because IQ scores from paper-and-pencil intelligence tests are by definition relative to the population. They are not measured on a ratio scale with a physically defined zero, as is time. Reaction time (RT) and RT variability, as well as other kinds of timing performance, is therefore superior for such comparisons. I review key studies on secular increase in RT and the relation between intelligence and RT and timing performance, with a focus on our own studies, and discuss some of the challenges and possibilities of this field of study.


Guy Madison is professor of Psychology at Umeå University since 2011, and received his PhD from Uppsala University in 2001. His areas of research include human timing modeling, music psychology, expertise, psychometric intelligence, behavioural genetics, sex differences, and evolutionary psychology.