Recent research has suggested that the determinations of intelligence vary significantly across different social classes. Some have even said that “nature vs. nurture” plays a different game between the rich and the poor.

For people in higher social classes, it has been found that genetic differences play the biggest role in determining IQ. But for people in lower social classes, environment and upbringing play a larger role. Basically, when it comes to determining intelligence, a comfortable upbringing allows nature to reach its full potential, but a poor upbringing can interfere at every step of the way.

This has shown to be more predominant in countries like the United States, where access to various social programs, such as a strong educational institution and healthcare facilities, can largely differ between people of differing social classes.

University of Texas at Austin Psychologist Elliot Tucker-Drob explained in an email, “The differences observed across nations might be explained by weaker social safety nets in the US compared to Western Europe and Australia. While this study did not investigate specific policies or services that might explain the differences. I think that it is fair to say that the causes of the difference are likely to be manifold.”

Indeed, it has been found that in American studies, the amount of influence that the two separate factors of genetics and upbringing have on IQ score and social achievement varies between different social classes. It has been discovered that the role of one’s environment and upbringing on intelligence tends to decline as one’s social status improves.

But in non-American studies, there is much less of a notable interaction between genetics and socioeconomic status on outcomes of intelligence. Researchers believe that it ultimately comes down to a country’s literacy rates, school quality, medical access, income levels and potential for upward mobility.

So while both genetics and upbringing play a role in determining intelligence, which one has a bigger impact might depend on social class. Still, there’s no denying the disadvantages of being poor and not being able to access much-needed services. In fact, one study showed that a scarcity of critical resources can cause a drop of up to 13 IQ points in children.

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