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the heredity versus environment debate

TOEFL reading practice

Текст из секции «Reading» (Чтение) учебника для подготовки к TOEFL из книги BARRON’S TOEFL IBT 15 издание Pamela J. Sharpe, Ph.D. p.39   — TOEFL reading practice

Текст из секции «Reading» (Чтение) учебника для подготовки к TOEFL из книги BARRON’S TOEFL IBT 15 издание Pamela J. Sharpe, Ph.D. p.39  

Это задание проверяет вашу способность к пониманию отрывков текста подобных тем, что в учебниках ВУЗов. Вы прочитаете один текст  и ответите на 14 вопросов  о нем. У вас для этого 20 минут. Вы можете делать записи при чтении. Вы можете  пользоваться записями при ответе на вопросы. Наведя на выделенное слово, вы получите его перевод. 

The heredity versus environment debate — TOEFL reading practice

TOEFL reading practice

P1  — The past century has been heated controversy about whether intelligence, which relates strongly to school achievements, is determined primarily by heredity or by environment. A When IQ tests were undergoing rapid development early in the twentieth century, many psychologists believed that intelligence was determined primarily by heredity. B

P2 —-> Environmentalist view. By the middle of the twentieth century, numerous studies had counteracted the hereditarian view, and most social scientists took the position  that environment is as important as or even more important than heredity in determining intelligence. Social scientists who stress the environmentalists view of intelligence generally emphasize the need for continual compensatory programs beginning in infancy. Many also criticize the use of IQ tests on the grounds that these tests are culturally biased. D

P3  James Flynn, who collected similar data on other countries, found that «massive» gains in the IQ scores of the population in fourteen nations have occurred during the twentieth century. These improvements, according to Flynn’s analysis, largely stemmed not from genetic improvement in the population but from the  environmental changes that led to gains in the kinds of skills assessed by IQ tests. Torsten Husen  and his colleagues also have concluded, after reviewing large amounts of data, that improvements in economic and social conditions, and particularly in the availability of schooling, can produce substantial gains in average IQ from one generation to the next. In general, educators committed to improving the performance of low-achieving students find these studies encouraging.

P4  ——> Hereditarian view. The hereditarian view of intelligence underwent a major revival in the 1970s and 1980s, based particularly on the writings of Arthur Jensen , Richard Herrnstein, and a group of researchers conducting the Minnesota Study of Twins. Summarizing previous research as well as their own studies, these researchers identified heredity as the major factor in determining intelligence — accounting for up to 80 percent of the variation in IQ tests.

P5    Jensen published a highly controversial study in the Harvard Educational Review  in 1969. Pointing out , that African -Americans averaged about 15 points below whites on IQ tests, Jensen attributed that gap to a genetic difference between the two races in learning abilities and patterns. Critics countered Jensen’s arguments by contending that a host of environmental factors that affect IQ, including malnutrition and prenatal care are difficult to measure and impossible to separate from hereditary factors. IQ tests are biased, they said, and do not necessarily even measure intelligence. After his 1969 article, Jensen has continued to cite data that he believed link intelligence primarily to heredity. His critics continue to respond with evidence that environmental factors, and schooling in particular, have a major influence on IQ.

P6——-> Synthesizers’ view. Certain social scientists have taken a middle, or «synthesizing,» position in this controversy. The synthesizers’ view of intelligence holds that both heredity  and environment contribute to differences in measured intelligence. For example, Christopher Jencks, after reviewing a large amount of data, concluded that heredity is responsible for 35 percent, and interaction between the  two («interaction» meaning that particular abilities thrive or wither  in specific environments) accounts for 20 percent. Robert Nichols  reviewed all these and other data and concluded that the true value for heredity may be anywhere between 0.40 and 0.80 but that exact value  has little importance for policy. In general, Nichols and other synthesizers maintain that heredity determines the fixed limits of a range; within those limits, the interaction between environment and heredity yields the individual’s intelligence. In this view even if interactions between heredity and environment limit our ability to specify exactly how much of a child’s intelligence  reflects environmental factors, teachers (and parents)  should provide each child with a productive environment in which to realize her or his maximum potential.


IQ- intelligence quotient; a numerical value for intelligence

  1. According to paragraph 2, which of the following  is true about environmentalists?

a — they had only a few studies to prove their viewpoint

b — they did not agree with the use of IQ tests to measure intelligence

c — they  did not believe that educational programs could raise IQ scores

d — they were already less popular by the mid twentieth century

Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow ——>

2. Which of the sentences below best expresses the information in the highlighted statement in the passage? The other choices change the meaning or leave out important information.

a — Changes in the environment rather than genetic progress caused an increase in IQ scores, according to studies by Flynn

b- Flynn’s studies were not conclusive in identifying the skills  that resulted in improvements in IQ tests

c — IQ test results in research by Flynn did not improve because of genetics and environment

d — The reason that gains in IQ tests occurred was because of the changes in skills that were tested

3. The word data in the passage is closest in meaning to

a — experts

b — advice

c — arguments

d — information

4. Why does the author mention the «Minnesota Study of Twins» in paragraph 4?

a — to argue that environment is more important than heredity

b — to prove the importance of heredity in measuring IQ

c — to establish the synthesizer’s view of intelligence

d — to summarize previous research before designing a new study

Paragraph 4 is marked with an arrow——>

5. According to paragraph 4, what can be inferred about the results of the Minnesota Study of Twins?

a — twins brought up in different environment probably had similar IQ scores

b — the environments were more important  to IQ than the genetic similarity of twins

c — the study did not support the previous work by Jensen and Herrnstein

d — the IQ scores of twins can vary by as much  as 80 percent

Paragraph 4 is marked with an arrow——>

6. According to Jensen’s opponents, why are IQ tests unreliable?

a — heredity is not measured on the current forms of IQ tests

b — it is  difficult to determine whether a factor is due to heredity or environment

c — learning abilities and patterns are different for people of diverse racial heredity

d — they only measure intelligence and not many others important factors

7. The word these in the passage refers to 

a- difference in measured intelligence

b — a large amount of data

c — particular abilities

d — specific environments

8. Based on the information in paragraph 6, which of the following best explains the term «synthesizing»

a — a moderate position between the two extremes

b — a position for which evidence is overwheming

с — a controversial position that is hotly debated

d — a modern revision of an outdated position

Paragraph 6 is marked with an arrow ———>

9. According to a synthesizers’ view, how does heredity influence  intelligence?

a — heredity is very important but not as influential as environment

b — heredity sets limits on intelligence, but environment can overcome them

c — a productive environment influences intelligence more than any other factor

d — heredity and environment interact within the limits set as birth

TOEFL reading practice

10. According to the passage , all of the following are true of hereditarian view EXCEPT

a — studies by Jensen and Herrnstein support this point of view

b — many psychologists in the early twentieth were heredirarians

c — intelligence as measured by IQ tests is a result of genetic predisposition

d — environmental factors are not able to be separated by heredity

11.  Which of the following statements most accurately reflects the author’s opinion about IQ tests?

a — the author believes that IQ tests should be used continuously from infancy

b — according to the author, there are too many disadvantages  to IQ testing

c — the author maintains a neutral point of view about IQ tests in the discussion

d — IQ tests should be used in research studies but they should not be used in schools

12. Look at the four  squares (ABCD)  that show where the following  sentence  could be inserted  in the passage 

Those who took this hereditarian view of intelligence thought that IQ tests and similar instruments measured  innate differences  present from birth in people’s capacity.

Where could the sentence best be added?

13. Complete the table by matching the phrases on the left with the headings on the right. Select the appropriate answer choices  and drag them to the view  of intelligence to which they relate. TWO of the answers choices will NOT  be used. 

This question is worth 4 points

Answer choices



A — Proposed interaction between heredity and environment

B — Attributed lower IQ to malnutrition and lack of health care

C — Suggested an innate range of IQ was influenced by environment

D — Was supported  by the Minnesota Twins study in 1970s

E — Claimed racial composition was a factor in measured IQ

G — Cited schooling as a positive consideration in the gains in IQ

H — Stated that social improvements improve performance  on IQ tests

I — Advanced this viewpoint when IQ tests were being developed

14. Directions: An introduction for a short summary of the passage appears below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answers choices that mention the most important points in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not included in the passage or are minor points from the passage.

This question is worth 2 points

Answer choices

A — Studies by James Flynn verified significant increases in IQ scores among populations in fourteen in the last century

B — By the 1970s, psychologists reversed their position, citing heredity as the primary determiner of intelligence as measured by IQ tests

C — Because IQ tests are unfair to minority cultures, the current view is to disregard previous studies that use them as a basis for measurement

D — In the mis-1900s, the popular view was that environment was the more important factor in the development of intelligence

E — before the development of IQ tests, both heredity and environment were thought to influence the relative intelligence of children

F — Some modern psychologists have proposed a theory that relies on the interaction between heredity  and environment to determine IQ



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