Introverts who have more stable personalities have higher levels of general knowledge, research finds.
These two personality factors, along with being open to experience, predict people’s general knowledge.
General knowledge — or as psychologists call it, crystallised intelligence — is one of two broad aspects of intelligence.
General knowledge is often linked to success in life because innate talent is not enough — application matters.
The other type is called ‘fluid intelligence’, and refers to abstract reasoning and the speed at which the brain works.
The conclusions come from a survey of 201 university students in the UK.
All were given tests of the five major aspects of personality: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
They were also asked general knowledge questions such as:
- Who discovered penicillin?
- Who wrote Anna Karenina?
- Which Beatle was shot in New York?
(The answers are: Alexander Fleming, Leo Tolstoy and John Lennon, respectively.)
The strongest predictor of people’s general knowledge was their cognitive ability.
In other words, people whose brains work faster absorb more knowledge over the years.
However, personality was also important in how much general knowledge people had picked up.
Having a stable personality (being non-neurotic) and being more introverted, were both linked to greater general knowledge.
Other studies have also consistently linked the personality trait of openness to experience to general knowledge.
People who are open to experience are more likely to be imaginative, sensitive to their feelings, intellectually curious and seekers of variety.
With increasing age, general knowledge becomes more important, the study’s authors write:
“…at more advanced stages of life, performance and achievement are best predicted by crystallized intelligence (gc), rather than the biologically-based, content-free, and so-called ‘‘culture-free’’ tests of fluid abilities (gf) (traditionally
regarded as the best measures of g).
It thus seems that the predictive power of gf tends to decline as individuals progress through the educational system, and as acquired information and learned skills play a greater role in determining job performance.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2006).