People who are open to new experiences tend to be more intelligent, psychological research finds.
Being open to experience means taking an interest in things that are new, complex and even unconventional.
Openness to experience is particularly important for general knowledge because it makes people more curious and motivates them to learn new things.
Openness to experience is one of the five major aspects of personality, which also includes neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness and conscientiousness.
Being open, imaginative and sensitive to emotions, though, has the strongest link to a higher IQ.
The reason may be that being intelligent makes people more curious about the world.
This ‘cognitive hunger’ drives people to discover more about the world around them.
Being able to appreciate beauty and being curious are very strongly linked to a higher IQ.
The conclusions come from a study of around 500 people who completed personality and IQ tests.
The results showed that the strongest associations were seen between openness to experience and crystallised intelligence.
Openness 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).”
Crystallised intelligence roughly equates to general knowledge: knowing many things about the world.
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).