Why You Also Need to Be Intelligent and Not Just Nice

Personality traits — such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, trust, and generosity — also affect behavior, but in smaller measure, and only initially. (Image: via   pixabay  /  CC0 1.0)
Personality traits — such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, trust, and generosity — also affect behavior, but in smaller measure, and only initially. (Image: via pixabay / CC0 1.0)

New research has revealed how people’s intelligence, rather than their personality traits, leads to success. Researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Minnesota, and Heidelberg devised a series of games to find out which factors lead to cooperative behavior when people interact in social and workplace situations.

Their findings, due to be published in the Journal of Political Economy, showed that people with a higher IQ displayed “significantly higher” levels of cooperation, which in turn led to them earning more money as part of the game.

The failure of individuals with lower intelligence to appropriately follow a consistent strategy and estimate the future consequences of their actions accounted for these different outcomes.

Personality traits — such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, trust, and generosity — also affect behavior, but in smaller measure, and only initially.

The researchers conclude, based on their findings, that a society is cohesive if people are smart enough to be consistent in their strategies, and to foresee the social consequences of their actions, including the consequences for others.

Professor Eugenio Proto, from the Department of Economics at the University of Bristol, said:

The findings have potentially important implications for policy, especially in the education sector, as well as international trade. Andis Sofianos, from the Department of Economics at the University of Heidelberg, said:

The research involved four different games that were representative of different and very specific strategic situations. Interactions were repeated, giving time and opportunity for each participant to observe and to reflect on the past behavior of the other.

Games used for the study included Prisoner’s Dilemma, Stag Hunt, and Battle of Sexes, which are often used in game theory — the science of logical decision making in humans, animals, and computers.

Where the strategy game involved a trade-off between current and future gains, those with a higher IQ won more money per round. The failure of individuals with lower intelligence to find and follow an optimal strategy and appropriately estimate the future consequences of their actions accounted for the difference in outcomes.

Perhaps surprisingly, conscientious people also tended to be more cautious, which in turn reduced their cooperative behavior. 

Provided by: University of  Bristol [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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