Having an active fantasy life, appreciating beauty, being emotionally sensitive and wide-ranging curiosity are linked to high IQ, research finds.
All of these are components of the major personality trait of ‘openness to experience’.
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 has an especially strong link to high IQ.
This may be because higher intelligence drives a ‘cognitive hunger’.
This encourages people to seek out new experiences to satiate the hunger.
The conclusions come from a study of 17,415 people from the UK.
They were given intelligence and personality tests and followed for 40 years.
The results showed the remarkable strength of the link between openness to experience and IQ.
The study’s authors explain their results:
“…childhood intelligence is indeed positively associated with adult trait Openness, even when it was assessed almost four decades earlier when participants were at 11 years.
Intelligence may influence the development of personality in that intelligent people develop habits to satisfy their curiosity and ‘‘cognitive hunger’’ which are an essential ingredient of Openness.”
The study’s authors think that it is high IQ that drives openness to experience:
“Parents of higher socioeconomic status may foster children’s trait Openness by providing better resources such as choosing good schools and cultural environment (theaters, museums, traveling abroad, etc.); intelligent children tend to use more mental activities (such as abstract ideas, learning new
vocabularies, or math formulas) than those who are less intelligent; school settings (quality of teaching, good facilities) may enhance pupils to engage more in school learning.
All these three factors may influence educational and
occupational achievement, which in turn, may increase
the scores on Openness.”
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 Individual Differences (Furnham & Cheng, 2016).