Laid back people — who can be disorganised and careless — tend to have higher IQs, one study suggests.
These traits are part of one of the five major aspects of personality called conscientiousness — or, in this case, lack of conscientiousness.
Being low on the personality trait of conscientiousness is linked to higher fluid intelligence, the researchers found.
One of the reasons may be that a quick mind can make up for what a person lacks in discipline.
As a result, those with higher IQs can afford to be more relaxed because they do not have to work so hard to achieve the same success.
Fluid intelligence is one of two types of intelligence and refers, roughly speaking to 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 in contrast to concrete intelligence, which refers to something like general knowledge: the things that people have learnt over their lifetime.
The study included 201 adults of all ages who were given tests of both intelligence and personality.
The results showed that while crystallised intelligence was not linked to lacking conscientiousness, fluid intelligence was.
It may be because people with higher fluid intelligence do not have to work as hard, so they become more laid back over the years.
The study’s authors explain:
“…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).