Impact of Social Class Background on General Cognitive Ability

  •  Turhan Şengönül    


Theorists and researchers have been discussing the relationship between social class background and differences observed in cognitive ability test points of children from lower social class families and their middle or upper SES peers. It has been discussed that for a more detailed understanding of these cognitive inequalities, it appears necessary to move beyond boundaries of psychology and consider sociological conditions or contexts as well. It has been asserted that social class background characteristics affect general cognitive ability over time. The present study introduces research exploring the impact of social class background on cognitive abilities of children. In Britain, the 1958 National Child Development Survey (NCDS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and more recently, the Millennium Cohort Study (MCS 2000) conducted at the start of the 21st century are particularly relevant and nationally representative broad-based studies for exploring the impact of social class background on general cognitive abilities of children. It was observed that they provided scaled data and emphasized the impact of social class, particularly the role of parental education as an indicator of social class in surveys. Social class affected children’s cognitive abilities as early as primary school years and led to inequalities in their cognitive performance. Children from lower social class and lower socioeconomic status (SES) families suffered a clear disadvantage. Poor and disadvantaged conditions of the lower social class adversely impacted and impaired the cognitive ability of children. Given the fact that cognitive abilities play a role especially in later life, adverse impacts and impairment of cognitive abilities are regarded as alarming and undesirable situations in childhood.

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