Being willing to entertain new, unconventional ideas is the strongest personality trait linked to high fluid intelligence, research finds.
Preferring variety and new activities over routine and sameness is also linked to high intelligence, the same survey found.
People with high intelligence are more likely to enjoy philosophical arguments, brain teasers, new problems and eccentric or uncommon activities.
Fluid intelligence refers to the speed at which the brain works.
It is like the raw power of an engine or the speed at which a computer can process information.
In contrast, crystalised intelligence roughly refers to general knowledge.
The study’s authors write that fluid intelligence was…
“…correlated with Actions and Ideas.[…]
Ideas refers to intellectual curiosity.
This trait is seen as an active pursuit of intellectual interests, and as a willingness to consider new, perhaps unconventional ideas.
High scorers on this scale enjoy philosophical arguments and brain teasers.”
Both actions and ideas are components or ‘sub-factors’ of the personality factor of openness to experience, which is strongly linked to intelligence.
Sub-factors of openness that were not strongly linked to intelligence included ‘fantasy’, ‘feelings’ and ‘values’, suggesting these do not tell us anything about a person’s intelligence.
The findings come from a survey of 2,658 employees at 10 different British companies.
All completed tests of intelligence and personality.
Like an interest in ideas, being willing to try new activities was also linked to intelligence, the authors write:
“Actions refers to willingness to try different activities, and to a preference for novelty and variety over familiarity and routine.
Fluid intelligence involves things like reaction times, quick thinking, reasoning, seeing relationships and approaching new problems.
This means that individuals high on [fluid intelligence] have an innate ability to cope more efficiently with novel experiences, and to deal with intellectually stimulating tasks such as brain teasers, which would thus make it rewarding for them to pursuit such activities.
Similarly, individuals low on [fluid intelligence] may in time grow to avoid such activities, due to their low ability to handle them, which would thus make them less rewarding.”
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 Learning and Individual Differences (Moutafi et al., 2006).