New paper: Warne, Russell T., and Cassidy Burningham. 2019. “Spearman’s G Found in 31 Non-Western Nations: Strong Evidence That G Is a Universal Phenomenon.” Psychological Bulletin. US: American Psychological Association.
Across 97 samples from 31 countries totaling 52,340 individuals, we found that a single factor emerged unambiguously from 71 samples (73.2%) and that 23 of the remaining 26 samples (88.5%) produced a single second-order factor. The first factor in the initial EFA explained an average of 45.9% of observed variable variance (SD = 12.9%), which is similar to what is seen in Western samples… Factor extraction in a higher-order EFA was not possible in 2 samples. These results show that g appears in many cultures and is likely a universal phenomenon in humans.
Map of countries included in this study.
Although we did not preregister any exact predictions for our study, we are astonished at the uniformity of these results. We expected before this study began that many samples would produce g, but that there would have been enough samples for us to conduct a post hoc exploratory analysis to investigate why some samples were more likely to produce g than others. With only three samples that did not produce g, we were unable to undertake our plans for exploratory results because g appeared too consistently in the data.
Thus, Spearman’s g appeared in at least 94 of the 97 data sets (97.0%) from 31 countries that we investigated, and the remaining three samples produced ambiguous results. Because these data sets originated in cultures and countries where g would be least likely to appear if it were a cultural artifact, we conclude that general cognitive ability is likely a universal human trait. …
For those who wish to equate g with a Western view of “intelligence,” this study presents several problems for the argument that Western views of intelligence are too narrow. First, in our search, we discovered many examples of non-Western psychologists using Western intelligence tests with little adaptation and without expressing concern about the tests’ overly narrow measurement techniques. Theorists who argue that the Western perspective of intelligence is too culturally narrow must explain why these authors use Western (or Western-style) intelligence tests and why these tests have found widespread acceptance in the countries we investigated (Oakland, Douglas, & Kane, 2016). Another difficulty for the argument that Western views of intelligence are too narrow is the fact that tests developed in these nonindustrialized, non-Western cultures positively correlate with Western intelligence tests (Mahmood, 2013; van den Briel et al., 2000). This implies that these indigenous instruments are also g-loaded to some extent, which would support Spearman’s (1927) belief in the indifference of the indicator.
If it even works for animals then it would seem very strange (and dare I say extremely racist?) that it would not work for some human subpopulations.
However, this is useful in yet another nail in SJW/blank slatist arguments to the effect that the g factor is a Western/white/modern/etc. social construct.