UVU Psychology Researchers Earn Mensa Award




A study published by Utah Valley University psychology professor Russell T. Warne and then-student Cassidy Burningham received the 2019-2020 Award for Excellence in Research from the Mensa Education & Research Foundation and Mensa International. The award, one of two given annually by Mensa, recognizes and celebrates groundbreaking research into intelligence or intellectual giftedness.

Warne and Burningham’s study, entitled “Spearman’s g Found in 31 Non-Western Nations: Strong Evidence That g Is a Universal Phenomenon,” identifies g, or a general cognitive ability, which many psychologists identify as “general intelligence,” in over 90 archival data sets from 31 non-Western countries. While g has been extensively studied in Western populations, there is some question about whether g is a cross-cultural phenomenon. By studying data from 31 countries, Warne and Burningham were able to conclusively show that g appears in many cultures and is likely a universal phenomenon in humans.

“The results of our research puts to rest any reasonable argument that a global problem-solving ability is unique to Western cultures,” Warne said. “A global intelligence is not a culturally-specific trait, but rather something that all human cultures possess. Whether their culture calls it ‘intelligence’ seems to be irrelevant.”

As a philanthropic organization, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation is dedicated to pursuit in excellence in human intelligence. Each year, they distribute over $140,000 in scholarships and awards to those who investigate, educate, and research intelligence and creativity. The Award for Research in Excellence given to Warne and Burningham this year is Mensa’s most prestigious research award.