Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Social Trends in American LifeFindings from the General Social Survey since 1972$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Peter V. Marsden

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691133317

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691133317.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

Population Trends in Verbal Intelligence in the United States

Population Trends in Verbal Intelligence in the United States

(p.338) 13 Population Trends in Verbal Intelligence in the United States
Social Trends in American Life

Duane F. Alwin

Julianna Pacheco

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines trends in adults' performance on a 10-item vocabulary battery administered within the General Social Survey (GSS). Measured ability remained relatively steady over time. This stability reflects the confluence of two offsetting trends: lower baseline vocabulary knowledge among adults in post-World War II birth cohorts counterbalances achievement gains attributable to their greater schooling. The intricate analysis here assesses two explanations for apparent cohort-related drops in verbal knowledge—that the GSS vocabulary test became more difficult because its words grew obsolete and that the drops reflect population aging rather than cohort-related differences. The chapter concludes that little evidence supports either account and suggests that vocabulary declines in postwar cohorts reflect their family and school experiences as well as the selective survival of higher-ability adults.

Keywords:   General Social Survey, vocabulary test, test performance, verbal knowledge, adult intelligence

Princeton Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.