Behavior Genetics

, Volume 44, Issue 6, pp 549–577 | Cite as

Genes, Evolution and Intelligence

  • Thomas J. BouchardJr.Email author
Original Research


I argue that the g factor meets the fundamental criteria of a scientific construct more fully than any other conception of intelligence. I briefly discuss the evidence regarding the relationship of brain size to intelligence. A review of a large body of evidence demonstrates that there is a g factor in a wide range of species and that, in the species studied, it relates to brain size and is heritable. These findings suggest that many species have evolved a general-purpose mechanism (a general biological intelligence) for dealing with the environments in which they evolved. In spite of numerous studies with considerable statistical power, we know of very few genes that influence g and the effects are very small. Nevertheless, g appears to be highly polygenic. Given the complexity of the human brain, it is not surprising that that one of its primary faculties—intelligence—is best explained by the near infinitesimal model of quantitative genetics.


Intelligence Heritability Evolution g Factor Brain 


Conflict of interest

The author declares that he has no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MinnesotaMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Steamboat SpringsUSA

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