People who are very sure of their intellectual abilities are, in fact, smarter than others, research finds.
Intellectual arrogance was linked to achieving higher grades in the study.
People who are intellectually arrogant tend to agree with statements like, “I believe my own ideas are superior to others.”
People are seen as intellectually arrogant by others when they are extraverted and dominate the group, wanting to be the centre of attention.
Professor Wade C. Rowatt, study co-author, said:
“One possibility is that people who view themselves as intellectually arrogant know what they know and that translates to increases in academic performance.”
For the study, the work of 103 students was followed over a semester.
The results showed that those who felt they were superior to others performed better in their coursework.
However, people who were more humble about their abilities were liked better by their peers.
So, intellectual arrogance may come with a penalty to social relationships.
The study’s authors were surprised by the results: they had predicted that intellectual humility would be linked to better performance.
However, this was not the case.
Dr Benjamin R. Meagher, the study’s first author, still thinks humility is a vital trait:
“What I think is important about intellectual humility is its necessity for not only science, but for just learning generally — and that applies to the classroom, a work setting, wherever.
Learning something new requires first acknowledging your own ignorance and being willing to make your ignorance known to others.
People clearly differ in terms of their willingness to do something like that, but that willingness to learn, change one’s mind and value the opinion of others is really needed if people and groups are going to develop and grow.”
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 of Research in Personality (Meagher et al., 2015).