Being cooperative is a sign of high intelligence, research finds.
Cooperative people are good at learning from experience and seeing the bigger picture.
They are generally helpful, mutually supportive and believe in teamwork.
Higher IQ is one of the most important factors in helping people work together, the research finds.
IQ has an even bigger effect on cooperation than being generous or conscientious.
In contrast, people with lower IQs do not think about the consequences of their actions and tend not to be consistent in their strategies.
The conclusions come from a study in which people played games that tested their cooperation.
All the participants were also given IQ tests.
The study’s authors explain the results:
“Higher intelligence resulted in significantly higher levels of cooperation and earnings.
The failure of individuals with lower intelligence to appropriately estimate the future consequences of current actions accounts for these difference in outcomes.
Personality also affects behavior, but in smaller measure, and with low persistence.”
Along with higher IQ, people whose personalities are more conscientious and agreeable were also more likely to be cooperative.
However, higher IQ had the strongest effect in the long-term.
The authors write:
“… intelligence is mostly likely to influence the way in which subjects think about the behavior of others, how they learn from it, and how they try to modify it.
Intelligence is relevant for learning and teaching.”
The more intelligent tend to cautiously trust others at first and then build on this over time.
This helps them cooperate better in the long-run, the researchers found.
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 Political Economy (Proto et al., 2018).