The personality traits of being open to experience and having stable emotions both indicate a higher IQ, research finds.
People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.
Emotional stability is linked to being better at dealing with stress and minor frustrations.
People who are emotionally stable usually find it easier to control their urges and are mostly unselfconscious.
Both stable emotions and being open to experience are linked to better general knowledge, which are two aspect of intelligence.
Psychologists call general knowledge ‘crystallised intelligence’ is one of the two main types of intelligence.
Crystallised intelligence becomes more important as people get older as acquired information and skills predict their success in life.
The other type is called ‘fluid intelligence’, and refers to abstract reasoning and the speed at which the brain works.
The study included 201 university students in the UK who were given tests of personality and general knowledge questions, including:
- Who wrote Anna Karenina?
- Who discovered penicillin?
- Which Beatle was shot in New York?
(See the end of the article for the answers.)
The results showed that people got more answers correct if their personalities were more emotionally stable and they were more open to experience.
Openness to experience is particularly important for general knowledge because it makes people more curious and motivates them to learn new things.
Another personality trait the researchers found was linked to greater general knowledge was introversion.
Signs of introversion include preferring to be in a quiet, relaxing environment and having a rich mental life.
Having a rich mental life likely encourages people with this personality trait to pick up more information about the world.
(The answers are: Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Fleming and John Lennon, respectively.)
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 (Chamorro-Premuzic et al., 2006).