Category Archives: Intelligence


Source: Psychology Today, Mar 2017

Intelligence is the most important factor in determining long-term achievement outcomes, and personality is unlikely to compensate for background disadvantage.

Brent Roberts, professor of psychology at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign. His work is especially important to consider because he attempts to fully account for the role of intelligence when assessing the impact of other non-cognitive factors.

We found that both cognitive ability and personality traits are important for these outcomes in particular, but that cognitive ability differences have a larger compensatory effect than individual personality traits. … Given the independent effects of cognitive abilities and personality traits, I’d be inclined to argue that both sets of variables are important for education and income but that cognitive abilities are more important than personality traits.

For most achievement-related outcomes like education, cognitive ability is always the strongest predictor. The line that non-cognitive factors do as well or better is just wrong.

My read of the IQ to “soft outcome” literature is that it is vastly overstated.

Refuting Group Intelligence

Source:, Feb 2017

What allows groups to behave intelligently? One suggestion is that groups exhibit a collective intelligence accounted for by number of women in the group, turn-taking and emotional empathizing, with group-IQ being only weakly-linked to individual IQ (Woolley, Chabris, Pentland, Hashmi, & Malone, 2010).

Here we report tests of this model across three studies with 312 people. Contrary to prediction, individual IQ accounted for around 80% of group-IQ differences. Hypotheses that group-IQ increases with number of women in the group and with turn-taking were not supported. Reading the mind in the eyes (RME) performance was associated with individual IQ, and, in one study, with group-IQ factor scores.

However, a well-fitting structural model combining data from studies 2 and 3 indicated that RME exerted no influence on the group-IQ latent factor (instead having a modest impact on a single group test). The experiments instead showed that higher individual IQ enhances group performance such that individual IQ determined 100% of latent group-IQ. Implications for future work on group-based achievement are examined.

It is interesting also that groups did not perform better than individuals – a genuine group-IQ might be expected to enable problem solving to scale linearly (or better) with number of subjects.

In group-IQ tasks, coordination costs appear to prevent group problem-solving from rising even to the level of a single individual’s ability. This implicates not only unsolved coordination problems, which are well-known barriers to scale (Simon, 1997) but also reiterates the finding that the individual problem-solver remains the critical reservoir of creativity and novel problem solution (Shockley, 1957).

Learning Without Questioning –Why Asians do not win Nobel prizes

Source: James Thompson blog, Apr 2014

Asians (Chinese, Koreans, and Japanese) are supposed to have higher IQs (about 105 on average) than North Europeans (100), while sciences have been developed overwhelmingly by Europeans and their offshoots. Why Asians are lacking in scientific success might relate to two factors:

1. Low curiosity, which is expressed by lower Openness to experience (-.59 SD) as shown in various cross-cultural personality comparisons.

2.  Collectivism, which is captured by various individualism-collectivism indices such as the Hofstede individualism index (IDV), or Hofstede and Triandis individualism index (about -2 SD). The genetic underpinnings for these traits, such as DRD4, 5HTTLPR, and OPRM1 have also become increasingly apparent.

To integrate these psychological traits, a “q” factor is constructed by factor analysis on measures of Openness and Collectivism, which are then correlated with variables measuring academic achievements and also student assessments. It is found that IQ scores coupled with “q” factor scores neatly predict racial scientific achievements and also world-wide student assessments.  

Google DOC presentation: 

A Mathematical Understanding of Intelligence

Related Resource: Offtopicarium, Jan 2013


Neuroscience of Intelligence

Source: James Thompson posting on, Jan 2017

Only 4% of the white population can do all the tasks in the list. 21% get to the 4th level but cannot do carpet cost type problems, and at the very bottom 14% have very simple skills, which do not include locating an intersection on a street map. For many of you reading this, the finding will seem incredible. It is incredible. Human differences are hard to believe, but they are matters to be demonstrated, beliefs notwithstanding.

In a large Dutch twin study (Posthuma et al ., 2003b ),the same identical twins were given mental test batteries repeatedly over time to assess general intelligence. The heritability estimate of general intelligence was 26% at age 5, 39% at age 7, 54% at age 10, 64% at age 12, and starting at age18 the estimate grew to over 80%. The increases could be due to several factors including more genes “turning on” with increasing age or gene– environment interactions.

in a study of 641 Brazilian school children, SES did not predict scholastic achievement, but intelligence test scores did (Colom & Flores-Mendoza, 2007). An even larger classic study had data on 155,191 students from 41 American colleges and universities. Their analyses showed that SAT scores predicted academic performance about the same even after SES was controlled; that is, SES added no additional predictive power (Sackett et al ., 2009 )

In 1988 Haier published the first PET study of students taking the Raven’s Matices test, showing that the brains of such students differed in terms of areas activated from those students doing a simpler attention task. In a master-stroke he correlated the Raven’s scores with brain activity, showing that the brightest students showed less brain activity. That’s right: less activity. Hence my frequent advice to earnest people who want to use more of their brain, which is that they should be bright enough to use less of their brain. Why sweat the small stuff?

Haier and colleagues proposed the brain efficiency hypothesis of intelligence:higher intelligence requires less brainwork.

If you’re intelligent, you’re better off alone.

Source:, 2016

when smart people spend time with their friends, it makes them less happy.   Why would intelligent people not gain happiness when they’re around close family and friends?

The findings in here suggest (and it is no surprise) that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it … are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective.

Related Resource: Higher Perspectives, date indeterminate

“More intelligent individuals, who possess higher levels of general intelligence and thus greater ability to solve evolutionarily novel problems, may face less difficulty in comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations,” Li and Kanazawa

Intelligent people see different novel evolutionary problems, and spend their time trying to solve it. They are quicker than less intelligent people to abandon pre held social structures in pursuit of their goals.

Weightlifting Sustains Intelligence

Source: The Independent (UK), Oct 2016

Regularly lifting weights could make you more intelligent, a new study of people with the early signs of dementia suggests.

A group of people aged 55 to 86 with ‘mild cognitive impairment’ – a precursor of Alzheimer’s disease – were asked to carry out a mix of weight lifting and brain training.

… the researchers said they had found a causal link between an increase in strength and better functioning of the participants’ brains.

The same team behind it published a paper in 2014 which revealed the participants’ global cognition had improved significantly after the weight training, whereas cognitive training did not do this.

Researcher Dr Yorgi Mavros, of Sydney University, said: “What we found in this follow-up study is that the improvement in cognition function was related to their muscle strength gains.

“The stronger people became, the greater the benefit for their brain.”

“The key however is to make sure you are doing it frequently, at least twice a week, and at a high intensity so that you are maximising your strength gains. This will give you the maximum benefit for your brain.”