Being open to experience is a sign of high intelligence, research reveals.
People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.
They are sensitive to their feelings, intellectually curious and seekers of variety.
Curiosity and an appreciation of beauty are particularly strong signs of crystallised intelligence, the study found.
Crystallised intelligence roughly equates to general knowledge: knowing many things about the world.
It is natural that people who are curious and interested in new things tend to pick up more general information.
The conclusions come from a study of around 500 people who were given tests of intelligence and personality.
Openness to experience is one of the five major aspects of personality.
Openness also has a number of facets of its own, the study’s authors explain:
“The Openness to Experience construct involves the tendency to fantasize (Fantasy), aesthetic sensitivity (Aesthetics), awareness of one’s emotions (Feelings), preference for novelty (Actions), intellectual curiosity (Ideas), and preference for nontraditional values (Values).”
The results revealed that more intelligent people were particularly appreciative of beauty: they had a strong aesthetic sense.
They were also likely to be intellectually curious and to have an interest in ideas for their own sake.
These two facets of openness were most strongly linked to higher crystallised intelligence.
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 (Ashton et al., 2000).