People who are laid back or lacking in discipline tend to have higher IQs, research finds.
Those who are low in conscientiousness, or who are laid back, tend to be a little careless, disorganised and impulsive.
Being conscientious, or otherwise, is one of the five major personality traits.
The reason for the link may be that people with higher IQs do not need to try as hard to achieve the same success — so they can afford to be more ‘relaxed’.
A quick mind can, in many circumstances, make up for a lack of discipline.
However, low conscientiousness is only linked to higher fluid intelligence.
Fluid intelligence is, roughly speaking, the speed at which the brain works.
As the study’s authors explain it:
“Fluid intelligence has been defined as our ‘‘on-the-spot reasoning ability, a skill not basically dependent on our experience’’.
It involves things like quick thinking, reasoning, seeing relationships between ideas, approaching new problems, and is considered to be biologically based.
Fluid intelligence is contrasted with crystallised intelligence.
Crystallised intelligence is something like general knowledge: the information that people have learnt about the world over the years.
The study found no link between crystallised intelligence and conscientiousness.
The conclusions come from a study of 201 people who were given intelligence and personality tests.
The results suggest that IQ affects how much effort people need to put in over the years.
Those with higher IQs generally don’t need to work as hard, so they develop a more laid back approach.
The study’s authors write:
“…in a competitive environment less intelligent individuals become more Conscientious in order to cope with their disadvantage, or that more intelligent individuals do not become so conscientious, as they can rely on their fluid intelligence to accomplish most tasks.”
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 (Moutafi et al., 2004).