It doesn’t pay to be just nice – you also need intelligence

New research has revealed how people’s intelligence, rather than their personality traits, leads to success.

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The failure of individuals with lower intelligence to appropriately follow a consistent strategy and estimate the future consequences of their actions accounted for these different outcomes.

Personality traits – such as agreeableness, conscientiousness, trust, and generosity – also affect behavior, but in smaller measure, and only initially. A new study by the Universities of Bristol, Minnesota, and Heidelberg considered some of these factors and investigated which factors prompt agreeable conduct.

They devised a series of games to find out which factors lead to cooperative behavior when people interact in social and workplace situations. Based on the study, scientists concluded that a general public is durable if individuals are sufficiently keen to be reliable in their techniques and to anticipate the social results of their activities, including the outcomes for others prompt helpful conduct.

Professor Eugenio Proto, from the Department of Economics at the University of Bristol, said: “We wanted to explore what factors make us effective social animals. In other words, what enables us to behave optimally in situations when cooperation is potentially beneficial not only to us but to our neighbors, people in the same country or who share the same planet.

“People might naturally presume that people who are nice, conscientious and generous are automatically more cooperative. But, through our research, we find overwhelming support for the idea that intelligence is the primary condition for a socially cohesive, cooperative society. A good heart and good behavior have an effect too but it’s transitory and small.

“An additional benefit of higher intelligence in our experiment, and likely in real life, is the ability to process information faster, hence to accumulate more extensive experience, and to learn from it. This scenario can be applied to the workplace, where it’s likely that intelligent people who see the bigger picture and work cooperatively, will ultimately be promoted and financially rewarded.”

The exploration included four unique games which were illustrative of various and particular vital circumstances. Connections were rehashed, giving time and open the door for every member to watch and to ponder the past conduct of the other.

Recreations utilized for the investigation incorporated Prisoner’s Dilemma, Stag Hunt and Battle of Sexes, which are regularly utilized as a part of diversion hypothesis – the art of legitimate basic leadership in people, creatures, and computers.

Andis Sofianos, from the Department of Economics at the University of Heidelberg, said: “The core principle of working cooperatively and seeing the bigger picture also applies to international trade, where there is overwhelming evidence that free trade is a non-zero sum game i.e. all parties could benefit.

“With education, our results suggest that focussing on intelligence in early childhood could potentially enhance not only the economic success of the individual but the level of cooperation in society in later life.”

Where the strategy game involved a trade-off between current and future gains, those with a higher IQ won more money per round. The failure of individuals with lower intelligence to find and follow an optimal strategy and appropriately estimate the future consequences of their actions accounted for the difference in outcomes.

Perhaps surprisingly, conscientious people also tended to be more cautious, which in turn reduced their cooperative behavior.

Their findings, due to be published in the Journal of Political Economy.