Article of the Year awards 2022: Development of intelligence is not affected by parents’ traumatic experiences

Nordic Mensa Fund awarded three article of the year-awards in 2022. Gustaf Gredebäck was awarded for the article “Fluid intelligence in refugee children. A cross-sectional study of potential risk and resilience factors among Syrian refugee children and their parents” published in Intelligence.

The study investigated fluid intelligence in 100 Syrian refugee families (children and their parents) living in Turkish communities. Previous work from the same material has documented that certain dimensions of a child's cognitive development, for example children's social cognitive development, are highly dependent on the mental health of mothers. Interestingly, the article demonstrated that children's intelligence is robust against trauma experience and parents' war related mental health problems.

The study also demonstrated that intelligence can be strengthened through storytelling and reading, something that has not been previously demonstrated with this group. Last but not least, most refugees from Syria live in communities in neighbouring countries. Despite this fact, most studies that have assessed child development focus on children living in refugee camps. This study fills an important gap by focusing on child development in a community sample, exploring children's lives and their development in a context that most refugee families share.

Gustaf Gredebäck is a professor in developmental psychology. He is the head of developmental psychology and the child and baby lab at the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University. His work is mostly about children's and infants' cognitive, social, and emotional development, with special focus on infants’ active explorations. Lately, he has studied how children respond to modern challenges such as war, refuge and poverty.