Generational Intelligence Research Base


Let us schedule a google meet conference call in 2-3 days so that we can clarify how to deepen this strong research you have done.


Here are some links that contain concepts that  I think we can pull from:


Key Info Needed:

  • Why do we one sound on– hearing and connecting different sounds and music and language
  • We have seen it in DNA
  • How we create cultures and it means it different things (they say right or left– how does it change our brains)– programming our brain to think in a certain way 
  • Certain biases your brain may be racist– how things are passed directly
  • How things are passed down indirectly
  • It is physical — your neuro pathways and your synaptic pathways are wired this way
  • Why do we listen to our endangered language series ?–
  • Studies on cultural studies — generations are found in cultural studies== there is evidence


Sleep and ancestors: How our ancestors used to sleep can help the sleep-deprived today – CNN


Genetic, non-genetic and neural basis of intergenerational intelligence


    • We have seen it in DNA
      • Intergenerational transmission is how behaviors and traits from one generation pass onto their offspring in genetic and non-genetic ways. (18)
      • Genetic ways= transmission of DNA, non-genetic ways= interplay with environment and genetics (epigenetics)
      • This influences characteristics like personality, psychopathology, intellect, socioeconomic status, BMI, lifestyle factors, health, as well as parenting behavior (18).
      • Genetic transmission: Children receive up to 50% of nuclear DNA from each parent. The genes carried by this DNA leads to direct accumulation of traits, characteristics and behavior by the child.
      • Non-genetic transmission is also called cultural transmission. This happens when parents (and other groups) influence the behavior of a child via the environment shared by them (18).
      • This environment includes broader family, cultural factors, social circles, etc.
  • Intergenerational continuity is when certain behaviors, cultural practices, and interactional styles are reinforced because of the environment, hence it sustains these behaviors across generations (18). For example, a low socioeconomic status could affect aggression levels in the parent and child, so, sharing physical, social and economic environments may lead to intergenerational continuity and cultural transmission of certain behaviors. This is a way through which intergenerational intelligence can occur. (18)
    • It is physical — your neural pathways and your synaptic pathways are wired this way
      • Research has shown neurometabolic substrates of parent to child transmission of social behavior (24).
      • Research on social transmission of mother-to-infant fear in rodents has shown that potential mechanisms for this are increased stress hormone corticosterone and amygdala activity (25). 
  • Cultural neuroscience governs how our neurobiology allows transmission of cultural traits (e.g. values, practices, beliefs) (26). It overlaps with social neuroscience to understand social processes that help individuals learn from one another.
  • How we create cultures and it means different things (they say right or left– how does it change our brains)– programming our brain to think in a certain way 
    • Culture consists of symbols, language, beliefs, values and artifacts (27).
    • There are diverse cultures in today’s society and one reason for this is the way resources are distributed (28).
    • “The human capacity for culture has resulted in enormous diversity at the population level, so that we can recognize that the way in which humans form cultures is as important, in evolutionary terms, as the capacity for culture itself. So, while at the species level there may have been the ‘evolution of culture’, once in place we need to consider an entirely different question—why are there so many different ‘cultures’?” (28).
    • Distribution of cultures is influenced by the environment; latitude, temperature and rainfall.
    • Cultures form when boundaries are established within communities. Boundary formation happens when there is resource reliability, that means the community can be self-sufficient (28). After this, through adaptive and neutral ways, community traits like language and technology diverge. Boundaries can be geographical barriers or demographics. 
    • Once cultures are created, individuals within the community experience cultural transmission where their behavior and traits are influenced by those cultural practices. This can in turn influence brain function where individuals are programmed to think in a certain way because of their culture.
    • Psychological research has shown that American cultures value the individual and east asian societies value the collective. These cultural differences have shown to affect memory and perception (29).
    • For example: “a team led by John Gabrieli, a professor at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, asked 10 East Asians recently arrived in the United States and 10 Americans to make quick perceptual judgments while in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner. Subjects were shown a sequence of stimuli consisting of lines within squares and were asked to compare each stimulus with the previous one. In some trials, they judged whether the lines were the same length regardless of the surrounding squares (an absolute judgment of individual objects independent of context). In other trials, they decided whether the lines were in the same proportion to the squares, regardless of absolute size (a relative judgment of interdependent objects). In previous behavioral studies of similar tasks, Americans were more accurate on absolute judgments, and East Asians on relative judgments. The two groups showed different patterns of brain activation when performing these tasks. Americans, when making relative judgments that are typically harder for them, activated brain regions involved in attention-demanding mental tasks. They showed much less activation of these regions when making the more culturally familiar absolute judgments. East Asians showed the opposite tendency, engaging the brain’s attention system more for absolute judgments than for relative judgments.” (29)
    • Such findings show that one’s culture could program or train an individual to think in a certain way.
  • Certain biases your brain may be racist– how things are passed directly
    • According to the social learning theory, children learn behaviors, attitudes, mindsets and practices directly from parents via modeling. This is when observation and imitation of behavior happens. (18)
    • According to the attachment theory, which states the importance of having a responsive primary caregiver to help a child feel secure, a child’s internal working models of relationships can be affected by the parenting they experience (18). As a result, the way they behave or how they view relationships are influenced. Parenting and parenting behavior are mediators of intergenerational transmission and a source of how traits, practices and behaviors are passed down directly.
    • One of the oldest examples of intergenerational transmission of parenting practices was how researchers noted that parents who are abusive with their parenting, were abused themselves. (19). The abusive behavior was potentially something they learnt directly from their own parents.
    • According to children-of-twin studies, a significant direct environmental transmission from parents to their teenaged offspring for anxiety and neuroticism was noted (20).
    • Apart from these “learned” intergenerational transmission, there is also genetic intergenerational transmission due to the common genes between children and parents (18). These shared genes can directly affect the behavior of children and parents, allowing intergenerational continuity of traits across generations (18).
    • Direct transmission of intelligence is also possible through gene-environment correlation (rGE), where apart from passing on genes related to, for example, antisocial traits, the parents rear the child in an abusive environment, which collectively contributes to the antisocial trait in the child (18).
  • How things are passed down indirectly

  • Epigenetics is how the environment you are in, for example, the experiences you have, like your diet, habits or even adversities like trauma, can change the expression of your genes due to certain chemical tags called epigenetic marks. The genes themselves are not altered, just their expression is (i.e. overexpressed or suppressed)
  • Intergenerational epigenetic inheritance  is the term used to describe how the epigenetic marks from one generation can be transmitted to the next generation (21). When this transmission happens from grandparents to grandchildren it is termed transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. 
  •  Epigenetics can be both direct and indirect. For the purpose of this section I am sticking with indirect epigenetics. Through epigenetic transmission, traits, behaviors and characteristics can be transmitted from one generation to the next.
  • Indirect epigenetics (22): within (WIE) and across (AIE). WIE refers to epigenetic changes that happen while in the womb due to gestation events. AIE refers to epigenetic changes that occured to ancestors due to events that happened to them even before the next generation was born, and are now passed onto the next generation through mechanisms that are still not clear. Both these ways indirectly affect the individual because they did not directly experience the initial event that led to epigenetic marks being created.
  • AIE might be a possible explanation to how scars from trauma have passed down through generations: “Many of the times when trauma is thought to have echoed down the generations via epigenetics in humans are linked to the darkest moments in history. Wars, famines and genocides are all thought to have left an epigenetic mark on the descendants of those who suffered them.” (23). However the need for larger studies looking at several generations is necessary to make stronger conclusions, as these epigenetic mechanisms are still not fully understood.
  • Another thing to bear in mind is that intergenerational inheritance of traits this way doesn’t mean that the exact trait (e.g. fear) is passed down, it’s a representation of that trait that is passed down (e.g. enhanced sensitivity) (23).
  • Something interesting: a study that used mice and conditioned them to fear cherry blossom scent found that when these mice were desensitized, their pups also didn’t show a heightened sensitivity to the smell. This is interesting because the pups had previously shown sensitivity, when their parents experienced no desensitisation (23). The implications of this is that if humans also inherit trauma in this way, healing from the trauma with techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy could stop effects of trauma being passed on.


Why learn from traditions/languages that are dying?

  • Why do we listen to our endangered language series?
  • From about 7000 languages that are spoken presently, 50-90% are vulnerable to become extinct within the end of this century (17).
  • Why is it important to preserve and learn from these languages that are dying? For one thing, language is the glue that holds different communities together. It is what helps them interact and coexist. It provides people with an identity.
  • In history, when colonial powers take over and supplant their own language on local communities or national governments who suppress minority communities by failing to officiate their own language (e.g. in Sri Lanka a bill termed Sinhala Only Act was passed in 1956, which essentially excluded the language called Tamil spoken by the minority. This was a contributing factor to a civil war between the government and an extremist Tamil group). These events, as seen, can lead to communities fighting back against the theft of their linguistic heritage and identity.
  • Indigenous Canadian communities are striving to reclaim the languages they lost due to oppression by the national government in the 19th and 20th centuries (17). Even with reduced resources and big obstacles in addressing this, the indigenous communities value their language and hold it close to themselves.
  • Language loss = loss of community heritage. Language (through oral storytelling) conveys the untranslated and unwritten history and stories of ancestry, cultural practices and knowledge, like names of medicinal plants. (17). Therefore its preservation is crucial.
  • An example: Lulamogi speakers in Uganda have words such as okukunia, okutegerera, and okubuutira that describe ways of capturing and eating white ants. These people are afraid that their community will forget this cultural practice. Language is key to preserving these social practices and community identity. (17)
  • “In the words of Lulamogi language advocate Nabeeta Erusaniah: “It is like when a wall of a hut collapses, the ceiling does not remain standing. What keeps the social practices and ritual standing in the language. Kill the language, and the shelter collapses too.” (17).
  • Language is important to understand concepts that do not have parallels in another language. For example, not everything can be explained with English words, especially concepts that are unique to a particular culture.


 How can the past help the present


    • Research shows that individuals use the intentions of past generations to guide their own behaviour (13). If previous generations behaved generously we are more likely to be generous to future generations. 
    • Intergenerational beneficence is when good intentions of the past generations are made clear to future generations, thereby enhancing feelings of generosity in future generations (13).
  • Intergenerational reciprocity is when the present generation feels obligated to help future generations. Research has shown that thinking and reflecting about past sacrifices led to increased feelings of moral duty toward future generations (14).
  • Intergenerational reciprocity plays a big role in our fight against climate change, where most of its consequences will be borne by the future generations to come. The question is, can the past help motivate the present to be generous enough for the future generation’s wellness? If so, how?
  • One way this is possible, according to researchers at the University of Massachusetts, is to make people reflect on past sacrifices done on their behalf (e.g. war heroes), to generate a moral obligation within themselves to help the future generations (15).
  • Quote from the researcher: “The question is how to motivate people to care for future generations. Other researchers have shown that reciprocity can be a powerful motivator. If someone does something for my benefit, that creates a sense of obligation to reciprocate, but if I can’t reciprocate directly for some reason, I might instead try to “pay it forward.” In our experiments, we tried to take that idea and scale it up to get people to feel a moral obligation to future generations by having them reflect on what people in previous generations had done for them.” (15)
  • What was interesting about this work was the researchers wanted to know if thinking about sacrifices of the past would help present generations to take action against climate change, which is a topic with most distant consequences. 
  • For this, 5 experimental online studies were done and the participants were asked to think about sacrifices of past generations. This was found to produce moral obligation in the participants for the future. Then, the researchers asked if they were willing to pay a higher tax/ other sacrifices against climate change for future generations. This showed a strong correlation between the moral obligation to the future and readiness to sacrifice, but there was no effect (15). This means that although there is a correlation, it may not be strong enough to be used as an intervention to motivate people to take action against climate change. Nevertheless, it is worth knowing that reflecting on past sacrifices could make oneself morally obligated to serve the future.
  • Another benefit of the past for the present is, it helps us better understand problems and possibilities. For instance, history teaches us how the past continues to shape society in the present and future, such as understanding ongoing cultural tensions and public health concerns (16).
  • Learning from past generations helps us understand and appreciate the diverse communities, cultures, ideas and traditions (16).
  • The past tells us stories of our ancestors, those we might not even know of otherwise. Once a UW alumnus called Michael Stern asked Professor Amos Bitzan to translate letters from his Jewish grandmother on the Holocaust. These letters were used in a class taught by Bitzan to show his students the real-life of living in Nazi-occupied Poland. These stories are important for the present to build empathy about past atrocities, to strengthen community ties and support (16).


Cultural studies and generations

    • Studies on cultural studies — generations are found in cultural studies==there is evidence
    • Cultural studies tell us stories of our ancestors and could keep us from repeating mistakes of the past (12).
  • Inherited affect is termed as the emotions that are passed on as a result of thinking about the actions of the past generations (12). For example, oral traditions that have been passed down from previous generations instils deeper community connection, which is necessary for survival.
  • Culture and folk tales share important messages that teach current generations. For example, Icarus melted his wings because he flew too close to the sun, against warning from his dad. These stories from the past shape present behaviour constantly.
  • The concepts of inherited affect and folktales that share cultural stories are used by some companies to tell their origin story to their employees (12).
  • For example, Richard Branson the owner of Virgin tells the story of how his mum taught him independence and risk-taking when he was thrown out of the car for misbehaving. Elon Musk, co-founder and CEO of Tesla, talks about how he loved reading science fiction novels for over 10 hours a day when he was 8 (which probably inspired his visions as an adult). These stories are passed down within organizations that can help employees better connect with the company’s values.
  • This connection with the past helps to be mindful of an organization’s purpose. In turn that helps to shape the behaviours of employers and employees. Staff who are more in tune with the corporation’s values are more likely to serve the business’s goals.


What is generational intelligence?


Homing pigeons and humans, what one thing do they have in common? Collective intelligence. 


Collective intelligence is the accumulation of knowledge due to collaboration between groups of people and therefore, entire generations (1). It’s sort of like “intelligence through generations” where ideas, cultures, and habits are not only passed down through generations but previous knowledge is built on and improved, allowing evolution. Scientists have found out that homing pigeons have similar homing patterns across consecutive generations suggesting cross-generational knowledge transfer and that these patterns improve over generations (2). 


Why is intelligence through generations beneficial?


Growth of knowledge: This “generational intelligence” has helped humans reach out the knowledge, ideas, values, cultures, and languages of previous generations that are then shared and maybe improved when deemed necessary. A lovely example of this in an experimental setting is the “spaghetti tower” test (1). A person is asked to build the tallest tower they can with raw spaghetti and clay while another person observes. Afterwards, the observer builds the tower while a new observer watches them. It was found that 10 “generations” of observers progressively built similar towers but taller than the one before. A translation of this in real life would be the growth of technology over the years, where video calling someone in just seconds would have been deemed impossible hundreds of years ago! But, knowledge built up on top of the preceding ones and gradually grew to what we have now. Pretty amazing, isn’t it?  


Cultural sensitivity and compassion: Learning from generations this way is helpful to understand others and where they come from. Cultural intelligence is where you learn about cultural differences based on nationalities, ethnicities, age-related beliefs, etc through observations and facts, thereby adapting to unfamiliar environments, for example, working together with team members from different cultures to yours (3). This helps to create a culturally sensitive and compassionate environment, through gestures, body language, and culturally significant acts (3). It doesn’t mean that you don’t make mistakes, but through continual monitoring of new information through generations, you can adjust your behaviour. It helps you build compassion, open-mindedness, and rapport with people who are different from you.


Social beings and happiness: We are social beings constantly forming connections and building existing ones. Intelligence from generations is why you know your grandma’s famous recipes that everyone bonds over holiday meals. Or certain cultural practices and habits that individuals in a certain community follow and bond over. People find solace in such collective knowledge and communities, therefore generational intelligence can bring happiness and hold societies together, bring about coordination through culture, habits, practices, languages, etc.


How does it happen?

Generational intelligence can be passed down through actions, cultural practices, ideas, language, etc. Going way back into history, initial modes of communication that allow collective intelligence include cave paintings of hunting that were used to inform others of better hunting modes (4). 


Written communication is a great tool that also allows generational ideas, habits, and practices to reach a broader geographical area and stand the test of time (4). That’s one of the ways religious scriptures are known to mankind to date.


Word of mouth is a common means of it happening where people verbally share ideas, habits, and practices so that they are passed on from generation to generation. 


Physical actions where one observes the actions of others, such as those from different communities to themselves, and learn from it.


In the present world, technology makes intelligence through generations more accessible than ever before. With the internet, social media communication, and newer tools like artificial intelligence assisting collaboration and teamwork in humans (5), we are able to harness information like never before. Learning languages and cultural practices, reading the history of cultures, keeping up with inventions, sharing ideas, etc all can happen at unprecedented rates in current times. This may help individuals be more compassionate about others, as they are more equipped with knowledge about different communities.


What’s most fascinating is that we are genetically primed to “learn” from previous generations. Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance means that our environment affects the way our genes are expressed and this can be passed onto other generations (6). This is an important area as research shows that parental hardship such as parental childhood adversities can lead to the transfer of epigenetic markers affecting the development of their children (7). These effects may include increased susceptibility to mental illnesses (8).


How does generational intelligence help you become happier?


As discussed above, intelligence from communities and generations allows you to improve existing knowledge over time. In fact, research has shown that our well-being and happiness improve compared to the previous generation, which means that we are likely to be happier in the future (9). Learning from the past to reduce economic crises like the Great Depression, advances in medical knowledge, science, technology, and flexibility in social norms may have contributed to overall increases in life satisfaction and happiness compared to the past (9).


Learning from generations and other communities can help us understand where others are coming from and be more compassionate toward their values and beliefs, and show respect. It can contribute to a peaceful multicultural society, as a result, contribute to happiness.


Passing on traditions, cultural values and habits can strengthen communities. For example, national traditions such as the celebration of the new year get people together, where they bond and have a good time. Such practices can not only allow individuals to cooperate but also lead to feelings of happiness.


Generational intelligence impacts on populations 


  1. Preschool: Various sorts of intelligence are passed onto preschoolers. Preschool kids are at the initial stages of a lifetime of learning and knowledge. They constantly follow their parents and teachers, watching their actions and modelling them (10). Their environment also shapes their thoughts and ideas. They learn new languages and storytelling may teach kids of cultural and religious awareness (e.g. when I was in preschool I was asked to draw pictures that conveyed what happened on Easter Sunday, see below).


  1. Middle and Elementary school: Middle and elementary schoolers learn about various ideas, habits, and practices from additional modes than the actions of role models like parents and teachers. They also use books, movies, music, cartoons, attend community events and speak to people from other generations. These modes allow them to gain information passed on from previous generations. It shapes their goals, beliefs, health, passions, inspirations, and more. It helps them understand where they come from and where others come from. 


  1. High school: High schoolers are impacted by intelligence passed on from generations and it affects their identity development as teens. This is an important stage in the development of an individual. Teen identity is affected by their environment including their family, peers, school, culture, and other people they interact with (11). Hence, generational intelligence forms a crucial part of their identity process.


  1. Higher ed: University is a place of intellectual growth. You are exposed to people from several walks of life including other students, professors, and experience various collaborative events and of course learn from different courses. All these exposures are sources of generational intelligence where you learn more about how the world works, which in turn impacts your goals and thought processes. My higher ed experience exposed me to so many new ideas, habits, and cultures. I learned about people who are different from where I come from and it generally made me more compassionate as a person. The best example is how I had a negative stereotype of Chinese and Hong Kong culture before I went to my university there. I thought that people there were generally rude. I swore to myself I will never eat noodles. Living in Hong Kong, meeting people, and learning about their culture helped me understand them more and recognize my personal biases. It made me love their cuisine (well some of them, not a fan of chicken feet) as well as meet some amazing people. It made me realize I stereotyped an entire culture and I was wrong. I did have a few rude encounters but that didn’t mean the entire community was rude. Partaking in their culture through meals like dim sum and hot pot helped me connect with their culture and make meaningful friendships.


  1. Workplace: Refer to the “Cultural sensitivity and compassion” section




















  1. J.J. Spinetta, D. Rigler. The child-abusing parent: a psychological review. Psychol. Bull., 77 (1972), pp. 296-304
  2. T.C. Eley, T.A. McAdams, F.V. Rijsdijk, P. Lichtenstein, J. Narusyte, D. Reiss, E. Spotts, J. Ganiban, J.M. Neiderheiser. The intergenerational transmission of anxiety: a children-of-twins study

Am. J. Psychiatry, 172 (2015), pp. 630-637, 10.1176/appi.ajp



From Traciana: Generational Intelligence: ingrained knowledge that has been passed down through generations through habits, ideas, culture, and language. It also helps us to understand others around us and their behaviors. This can be physical, mental, and also genetic. It helps us to understand our true authentic selves and to be compassionate towards others.




Blog Data


Social Facebook Data


Social Twitter Data


Social Instagram Data


Additional Media Attached




External Source url


Author Info


Blog Layout


Category Blog

Category: Uncategorized