Cold Winter theory is very simple: warm blooded, warm climate adapted humans drifted North in search of game, and perished unless they could hunt, cope with the climate, and plan wisely so as to live from one winter to the next. Hence, survivors had more forethought, more behavioural restraint regarding immediate gratification, and a whole lot of other changes to help them adapt to hunting and later farming in cold climates.
If any of this is true, people living in the far North should be very bright. All the short-term-ist, happy go lucky, non-planners should have died off long ago, leaving crafty, calculating, clever survivors.
Elijah L. Armstrong, Michael A. Woodley, Richard Lynn. Cognitive abilities amongst the Sámi population. Intelligence Volume 46, September–October 2014, Pages 35–39
Into these wintry wastes trek the young Woodley, the even younger Armstrong and the older Lynn to sniff out whether the far Northern tribe of the Lapps (or Sami) differ from the nearby Finns, a mere reindeer ride to the South. This isolated group is similar to the Siberian Chukchi. Cranial volumes are slightly smaller than the European mean. Sámi appear to be different from other Artic peoples, and were historically reindeer herders or fishermen, although today they are largely urbanized while maintaining traditional folkways.
Not much different, it seems. The Lapps are not that different from the Finns in terms of intelligence. Lapps have an IQ around 101, as do the comparison group of rural Finns, and are tilted towards visuo-spatial ability and away from verbal ability. These data suggest that the Sámi have the same profile that most people of the world have, i.e., they perform better on spatial than on verbal tests relative to the Caucasoid norm. Both groups are stronger on non-verbal than verbal skills, which might be expected of hunters searching for game in the landscape.
However, these three intelligence explorers are careful to show how many other factors must be considered. They looked at data from four studies on the Skolt Lapps, who may have turned out to be the brighter ones. They do some careful work to estimate the underlying g factor, and correct for the reliability of the tests, for restriction of range and for the Flynn effect.
Overall, the results are at best only somewhat consistent with Cold Winters theory (Lynn, 1991 and Lynn, 2006). As Hart (2007, p. 417), noted, a higher IQ for the Sámi is expected from this theory. Nevertheless, the Sámi may live in a lower quality environment, thus their genotypic IQ might actually be higher still. The Sámi might have evolved their distinct cognitive profile in response to recurrent features of an Arctic ecology over the last 2,000 years (before which they may have more closely approximated the other Caucasoids in terms of the structure of their mental abilities). This would support Kura’s (2013) and Woodley and Figueredo’s (2013) conjecture of very recent accelerated evolution in response to cold temperatures.
The IQ of the Laplanders is higher than that of the Inuit peoples, whose IQ is around 90.5, and the Aleut, whose IQ is around 92 (Lynn, 2006). This may be related to the fact that Mongoloid Arctic peoples are genetically close to the North Amerindians, whose IQ is about 86 (Lynn, 2006), whereas the Sámi are genetically about equidistant from the Amerindians and Europeans (Jensen, 1998 and Lynn, 2007 estimates the IQ of the Mongols using a similar strategy). Comparing the IQ of the Sámi to that of three other Arctic groups, the Ainu, Tungus and Altai, the Sámi exhibit similar IQs to the Ainu (IQ 97; Kura et al., 2014) but possess substantially higher IQs than the Tungus and the Altai (Tungus IQ 70–80, Altai IQ 67–75; Lynn & Shibaev, under review). The latter study listed two samples of Tungus, who attained IQs of 70 and 80. The latter sample was extremely poor and isolated (information about the living conditions of the first sample was not given), which may account largely for their low IQ. The study also cited one study of Altai IQ where Altai (who were largely illiterate) received IQs of 67 or 75, depending on the test.
The authors continue: Two final problems with the present study are, firstly, that all of our samples are Skolt Sámi; there are no other Laplanders included in this sample. Skolts are not the only subgroup of Sámi, and they were somewhat more isolated than other Sámi when the studies were conducted (Forseius, 1973), so the samples may therefore be unrepresentative. Secondly, our estimate for the Finnish national IQ (101) is somewhat conservative. A higher Finnish IQ is indicated by reaction time studies (Woodley, te Nijenhuis, & Murphy, under review), which are not included in Lynn and Vanhanen’s (2012) review. Therefore, the Finnish IQ, and by extension the Sámi IQ (which in the first analysis was estimated relative to the Finnish IQ), may be somewhat higher than that estimated here.
In summary, cold winters probably had as much effect on Lapps as on Finns, but it does not of itself account for the lower intelligence of other Artic peoples who were drawn from other, less able, populations. So, I would interpret this result as one of those “Consistent with” rather than “Stongly suggest of” conclusions.
Actress Renée Zellweger, pictured above, is of possible Sami extraction, on her mother’s side. Sibelius, he was Finnish.