I am sure I read once about research conducted on villagers who were pushed very very quickly from very basic, premodern agrarian structures into collectivised, quota-driven, management-structure based farming and the effects this had on their thinking and cognition.

It is one of those periods that seems artificial and extreme and thus ripe for interesting research, but every time I Google to try and track down the original source I can't find it under the deluge of papers exploring the economics or changes to social environments. I can't quite find the right keywords...

Can anyone who sees this remember any research into changes in the way people thought, within the same generation, that biased them into thinking more about abstract groups and categories and mathematical concepts rather than more basic immediate thought patterns? This may or may not have used IQ to measure capacity for abstract thought but I am not sure.

Any help would be greatly appreciated! It must have been an interesting time to study all sorts of questions, and the time scale required for these shifts in thought patterns would be interesting


1 Answer 1


You are probably thinking of Alexander Luria's "On the historical development of cognitive processes" (1974). Luria was a Soviet psychologist who studied rural people in the Soviet Union and observed their apparent lack of ability to move from concrete to abstract thought.

See the TED talk "Why our IQ levels are higher than our grandparents'" by James Flynn, the discoverer of the so-called Flynn effect in educational psychology, where he specifically mentions Luria's rural research and how 20th century progress brought abstract reasoning into the necessary toolbox of a larger and larger proportion of populations.


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