An intelligent Scotland: Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson and the Scottish mental surveys of 1932 and 1947

Wed 17 Oct 2012, 19:00 - 20:15

The British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH

 In 1931 the newly founded Scottish Council for Research in Education decided to describe the mental ability of Scotland’s children. This was part of an international collaboration called the International Examinations Inquiry. Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson was at the heart of this project – assessing the intelligence of Scotland’s 11-year-old population in the Scottish mental surveys (1932 and 1947). This lecture first explains why Scotland was a world-leader in intelligence research; the obscurity into which Thomson and those Surveys fell; and how Thomson’s contributions are today re-emerging. Secondly, it describes current follow-up studies of the Surveys – exploring differences in cognitive ageing by testing the health, cognitive abilities and brain structure of people now in their 8th and 9th decades on whom there are intelligence test scores from age 11.

About the Speaker:
Ian Deary is Professor of Differential Psychology at the University of Edinburgh and Director of the Medical Research Council-administered Centre for Cognitive Ageing and Cognitive Epidemiology. His principal research interest is human mental abilities, especially: the origins of cognitive differences; the effects of ageing and medical conditions on mental skills; and the influence of intelligence on health and wellbeing through the life course. He directs the Lothian Birth Cohorts of 1921 and 1936, and the 6-Day Sample follow-up study of the Scottish Mental Survey 1947. In 2010 he received the Distinguished European Personality Psychologist Award from the European Association for Personality Psychology.


Professor Ian J Deary FBA
Professor of Differential Psychology, University of Edinburgh

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