The Flinn Effect in Russia: Impact of Settlements’ Size



The rise in the intelligence tests scores across the generations, known as the Flynn effect, is widely studied in various countries due to critical role of intelligence as the most important component of human capital. Several explanations for the Flynn effect have been proposed, none of which have a predominant status. At least partly it can be explained by deficiency of studies devoted to the influence of various moderators on the speed and trajectory of the intelligence scores gain. This study presents the results of an analysis of the impact on the Flynn effect of such a poorly studied factor as the settlements’ size of a populated point. Intelligence scores (n = 267116) obtained during large-scale online testing of men aged 18—40 years between 2012 and 2019 were distributed among seven categories of populated points determined by their population size. Significant differences were revealed both in the level of IQ scores and in the rate of its growth, depend- ing on the respondents belonging to these categories. Differences in the level of intelligence of residents of megalopolises and small towns are 7 IQ-points on average, and the dynamics of growth in intelligence scores in the period 1983—2000 differs in some of the categories by more than 2 times. The smallest trend for this period was in cities with a population of 100 to 249.9 thousand people. Possible explanations for the differences are suggested. In particular, the selective migration of the most educated and intellectual part of their population to large cities and capitals may be a possible mechanism for inhibiting the Flynn effect in settlements with a smaller population.

General Information

Keywords: intelligence, general cognitive ability, Flynn Effect, online testing, urbanization, the Orien- tation Test — Short Form.

Journal rubric: Psychology of Intelligence

Article type: scientific article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 19-29-07352.

For citation: Sugonyaev K.V., Grigoriev A.A., Panfilova A.S. The Flinn Effect in Russia: Impact of Settlements’ Size. Eksperimental'naâ psihologiâ = Experimental Psychology (Russia), 2021. Vol. 14, no. 3, pp. 104–121. DOI: 10.17759/exppsy.2021140308. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Konstantin V. Sugonyaev, PhD in Engineering, Associate Researcher, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Andrei A. Grigoriev, Doctor of Philology, Chief Researcher of the Laboratory of Psychology and Psychophysiology of Creative Activity, Institute of Psychology of Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:

Anastasya S. Panfilova, PhD in Engineering, Researcher, Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



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