Eyferth study

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The Eyferth study is the name often given to a study conducted by psychologist Klaus Eyferth concerning the IQs of white and racially mixed children in post-Second World War West Germany. The mothers of the children studied were white German women, while their fathers were white and African-American members of the US occupation forces. In contrast to results obtained in many American studies,[1] the average IQs of the children studied were roughly similar across racial groups, making the study an oft-cited piece of evidence in the debate about race and intelligence.[2]

Eyferth's study was first published under the title Eine Untersuchung der Neger-Mischlingskinder in Westdeutschland in the journal Vita Humana in 1959.[3] Eyferth described further results of his study in the paper Leistungen verschiedener Gruppen von Besatzungskindern in Hamburg-Wechsler Intelligenztest für Kinder (HAWIK), which was published in the journal Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie in 1961.[4]

Study design[edit]

The children studied had been raised by their unmarried German mothers. Most of the fathers, white or black, had been members of the US occupation forces stationed in Germany. At the time of the study, the children were aged between 5 and 13 (mean age: 10). The mothers of the children were approximately matched for socio-economic status; they were mostly of low SES. There were about 98 mixed race (black-white), and about 83 white children in the sample.[5] The total sample consisted of about 5 percent of the German children known to have been fathered by black soldiers between 1945 and 1953, in addition to a matched sample of 83 German children whose fathers were white soldiers. Of the fathers of the mixed-race children, about 80 percent were French Africans and the remaining approximately 20 percent were African Americans.[6]

For assessing IQ, a German version of the WISC intelligence test (Hamburg Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, HAWIK) was used.[7]


The white children studied averaged an IQ of 97.2, whereas the average of the racially mixed children was 96.5.[8]

Sorted out by sex and race, the average scores obtained were:[9]

Group Boys Girls Difference
White 101 93 8
Mixed race 97 96 1
Difference -4 3



Stressing the similarity of average IQ scores across racial groups in the Eyferth study, Jim Flynn, Richard E. Nisbett, Nathan Brody, and others have interpreted it as supporting the notion that IQ differences between whites and blacks observed in many other studies are mostly or wholly cultural or environmental in origin.[10] Moreover, they have pointed out that mixed-race children may have faced prejudice growing up as a racial minority, making the similarity of results even more significant.[11]


Several other researchers have been skeptical about the value of the study for illuminating the causes of racial IQ differences.

Arthur Jensen raised criticisms on several fronts: (1) the difference between white girls and white boys suggested a sampling error, because in the WISC standardization sample the average IQs of boys and girls are equal. (2) the IQs of the children's mothers and fathers are unknown, and that white and black G.I.'s in Germany were not equally representative of their respective populations, since about 30 percent of blacks, compared to about 3 percent of whites, failed the preinduction mental test and were not admitted into the armed forces. (3) Nearly all of the children were tested before adolescence, which Jensen claimed was before the genotypic aspect of IQ had become fully manifested. (4) Jensen suggests that heterosis may have enhanced the IQ level of the mixed race children in the study.[12][13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See, for example:
    • Scarr, S.; Weinberg, R. A. (1976). "IQ test performance of black children adopted by White families". American Psychologist. 31: 726–739. doi:10.1037/0003-066x.31.10.726
    • Clark & Hanisee, 1982
    • Winick, Meyer, and Harris (1975)
  2. ^ See, for example:
    • Bailey, Ronald (December 1, 2006). "Closing the Black/White IQ Gap? James Flynn and Charles Murray search for a solution". Reason.com. Retrieved June 12, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    • Nisbett, Richard E. (December 9, 2007). "All Brains Are the Same Color". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    • Gladwell, Malcolm (December 17, 2007). "None of the Above. What I.Q. doesn't tell you about race". The New Yorker. Retrieved June 12, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    • Gasper, Phil (January–February 2008). "IQ, genetics, and racism". International Socialist Review. Retrieved June 12, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
    • Kirp, David L. (May 1, 2009). "Getting Smarter About IQ". The American Prospect. Retrieved June 12, 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Eyferth 1959
  4. ^ Eyferth 1961
  5. ^ Jensen 1998, p. 482
  6. ^ Jencks & Phillips 1998, p. 19
  7. ^ Jensen 1998, p. 482
  8. ^ Brody 2003, p. 403
  9. ^ Jensen 1998, p. 482
  10. ^ See e.g.:
    • Flynn 1999
    • Brody 2003
    • Nisbett 2005
  11. ^ Dickens 2005
  12. ^ Jensen 1998, p. 483
  13. ^ Rushton & Jensen 2005, p. 261


  • Brody, N. (2003). Jensen's Genetic Interpretation of Racial Differences in Intelligence: Critical Evaluation. In Nyborg, H. (ed.), The Scientific Study of General Intelligence: Tribute to Arthur R. Jensen (pp. 397–410). Oxford: Pergamon.
  • Clark, E. A. & Hanisee, J. (1982). Intellectual and adaptive performance of Asian children in adoptive American settings. Developmental Psychology, 18, 595-599.
  • Dickens, W. T. (2005). Genetic differences and school readiness. The Future of Children, 15, 55-69
  • Eyferth, K. (1959). Eine Untersuchung der Neger-Mischlingskinder in Westdeutschland. Vita Humana, 2, 102-114.
  • Eyferth, K. (1961). Leistungen verschiedener Gruppen von Besatzungskindern in Hamburg-Wechsler Intelligenztest für Kinder (HAWIK). Archiv für die gesamte Psychologie, 113, 224-241.
  • Flynn, J. R. (1999) Searching for justice: The discovery of IQ gains over time. American Psychologist, 54, 5–20.
  • Jencks, C. & Phillips, M. (1998). The Black-White Test Score Gap: An Introduction. In Jencks, C. & Phillips, M. (ed.), The Black-White Test Score Gap (pp. 1-52). Brookings Institution
  • Jensen, A.R. (1998). The g factor: The Science of Mental Ability. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Nisbett, R. E. (2005). HEREDITY, ENVIRONMENT, AND RACE DIFFERENCES IN IQ. A Commentary on Rushton and Jensen (2005). Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 302–310.
  • Rushton, J. P. & Jensen, A. R. (2005). Thirty Years of Research on Race Differences in Cognitive Ability. Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, 11, 235–294.
  • Winick, M., Meyer, K. K., & Harris, R. C. (1975). Malnutrition and environmental enrichment by early adoption. Science, 190, 1173-1175.