Learning to read 2,500 pictorial symbols, as Chinese students do in grade school, yields a 5-point advantage on IQ tests, compared with the scores of Westerners whose languages are based on alphabets, according to a new analysis of mental capabilities of Greek and Chinese children. The international team of analysts, led by psychologist Andreas Demetriou of the University of Cyprus in Nicosia, attributes the scoring disparity to a superiority in visual and spatial tasks that comes with learning to read Chinese.
"Our findings support the assumption that reading and writing systems are powerful methods for influencing the development of mental abilities, and perhaps brain growth, in individuals and in cultures," Demetriou says.
First, the team considered a measure of general intelligence derived from IQ scores (SN: 2/8/03, p. 92: Available to subscribers at Essence of g). Overall, Greek and Chinese kids exhibited comparable general intelligence d