Curiosity is a sign of being highly intelligent, research finds.
Being curious is an aspect of the personality trait called ‘openness to experience’.
People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.
In this study, people who found novel visual art and poetry more interesting also had a higher IQ.
The study had 129 people given tests of personality and intelligence.
They were then given various works of poetry and visual art to look at and asked how interesting they found them.
For example, here is a poem by the American poet W.B. Keckler called “If William Carlos Williams Had Been Born A Cat”:
I have eaten
that were in
you were probably
they were delicious
and so stupid
Here is some ‘visual poetry’ by artist Gustave Morin, made using a typewriter:
People who found poems and pictures like these more interesting were more likely to be highly intelligent.
The study’s authors conclude:
“…people high in Gf [fluid intelligence] rated both the poems and the pictures as more interesting.
Finding this relationship across two domains—the verbal domain of poetry and the visual domain of visual art—suggests that it is robust.”
Fluid intelligence refers to the speed at which the brain works.
It is like the raw power of an engine or the speed at which a computer can process information.
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 Learning and Individual Differences (Silvia & Sanders, 2010).