Race and IQ: A Theory-Based Review of the Research in Richard Nisbett - s Intelligence and How to Get It

J. Philippe Rushton*, 1, Arthur R. Jensen2
1 Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C2, Canada
2 Department of Education, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94308

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© 2009 Blech and Funke.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychology, niversity of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5C2, Canada; Tel: 519-661-3685; E-mail:


We provide a detailed review of data from psychology, genetics, and neuroscience in a point-counterpoint format to enable readers to identify the merits and demerits of each side of the debate over whether the culture-only (0% genetic- 100% environmental) or nature + nurture model (50% genetic-50% environmental) best explains mean ethnic group differences in intelligence test scores: Jewish (mean IQ = 113), East Asian (106), White (100), Hispanic (90), South Asian (87), African American (85), and sub-Saharan African (70). We juxtapose Richard Nisbett ’ s position, expressed in his book Intelligence and How to Get It, with our own, to examine his thesis that cultural factors alone are sufficient to explain the differences and that the nature + nurture model we have presented over the last 40 years is unnecessary. We review the evidence in 14 topics of contention: (1) data to be explained; (2) malleability of IQ test scores; (3) cultureloaded versus g-loaded tests; (4) stereotype threat, caste, and “X” factors; (5) reaction-time measures; (6) within-race heritability; (7) between-race heritability; (8) sub-Saharan African IQ scores; (9) race differences in brain size; (10) sex differences in brain size; (11) trans-racial adoption studies; (12) racial admixture studies; (13) regression to the mean effects; and (14) human origins research and life-history traits. We conclude that the preponderance of evidence demonstrates that in intelligence, brain size, and other life history traits, East Asians average higher than do Europeans who average higher do South Asians, African Americans, or sub-Saharan Africans. The group differences are between 50 and 80% heritable.