Socioeconomic environment effect on inferential reasoning of Latin American students

Carmen Flores-Mendoza, Renan Benigno Saraiva, Gislene Clemente Vilela Câmara, Wilma M. Guimarães Lopes, Ana P. Carvalho Pereira Passos, Ana Maria Valladão Pires Gama, Viviane de Oliveira Baumgartl, Larissa Assunção Rodrigues, Ruben Ardila, Ricardo Rosas, Miguel Gallegos, Norma Reategui



Introduction. Inferential reasoning (IR) is a major component of intelligence, which comprises many different cognitive processes such as perception, memory, and logic. Many studies have proposed that socioeconomic status (SES) has a negligible association with IR, but more recent findings suggest that they may have a higher association when evaluating group instead of individual SES.

Objective. The aim of this study is to test the effects of both individual (students) and group (schools) socioeconomic status on IR, comparing different countries of Latin America.

Method. The sample was composed of 2 358 students aged 14 and 15 years from 52 different schools (44% public) of five Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, and Peru). Participants took part in an inferential reasoning test and answered a socioeconomic questionnaire.

Results. SES student showed a small positive correlation with IR (r = .10, p < .001), while SES school had a more pronounced effect on IR (F [2, 1944] = 74.68, p < .001, ηp2 = .07), with higher IR at schools with higher SES. A significant difference of IR between countries (F [4, 1976] = 20.68, p < .001, ηp2 = .04), was also found with Peru showing the highest mean. Peru was the country with the higher percentage of private schools in the present study. A multilevel model was fitted using individual and group SES as predictors.

Discussion and conclusion. Our findings showed that group SES have a higher predictive value of IR when compared to individual SES. This result suggests that individuals with low SES can benefit from studying on higher SES schools. Future research and the importance of public policies are discussed.


Inferential reasoning; intelligence; socioeconomic factors; Latin American; schoolchildren

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