People who learn to read earlier in childhood have a higher IQ, research finds.
The study linked more advanced reading skills at age 7 to higher verbal and nonverbal intelligence in later years.
Indeed, reading from an earlier age may actually improve intelligence later on.
Dr Stuart J. Ritchie, the study’s first author, said:
“Since reading is an ability that can be improved, our findings have implications for reading instruction.
Early remediation of reading problems might aid not only the growth of literacy, but also more general cognitive abilities that are of critical importance across the lifespan.”
The study included 1,890 twins whose reading and IQ levels were tested every few years from 7- to 16-years-old.
The researchers tested whether differences in reading abilities between twins were linked to later changes in IQ.
Using twins helps to rule out the effects of genes and the environment, as both are the same for twins.
The results showed that the twin who learnt to read earlier tended to have a higher IQ later on.
This was true for both verbal intelligence and nonverbal intelligence.
Dr Ritchie said:
“If, as our results imply, reading causally influences intelligence, the implications for educators are clear.
Children who don’t receive enough assistance in learning to read may also be missing out on the important, intelligence-boosting properties of literacy.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Child Development (Ritchie et al., 2015).