Success Depends on Your Personality Not on Your IQ

What do you think the role of IQ on achieving success?


It is perhaps a common belief that IQ predicts success. In academic world, the same belief is true. The more intelligent a student, the higher the success waiting for him/her.

However, not all students who have high IQ succeed in academic endeavor. In fact, great innovators and inventors are mostly college dropouts.

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are both college dropouts. But they both impacted the modern world in a huge way.

On the other hand, some average students made tremendous academic success. The same is true in business. There are average people who became great business tycoons.

The question is what really predicts success?

Scientific research on IQ

Because it was not clear whether or not IQ is the sole predictor of success, a group of researchers conducted a study. The finding suggests that school grades and achievement tests are better predictors of success than other measure of intelligence.

Although grades and achievement tests scores do not measure intelligence, they reflect aspects of personality.

In the said study Lex Borghans and others concluded that:

“We establish that, on average, grades and achievement tests are generally better predictors of life outcomes than “pure” measures of intelligence. The reason is that they capture aspects of personality that have been shown to be predictive in their own right. All of the standard measures of “intelligence” or “cognition” are influenced by aspects of personality, albeit to varying degrees, depending on the measure.”

In other words, personality is better predictor of life’s outcomes than intelligence. Success in academics and in real life might not depend on how intelligent a person is but rather on his/her ability to function in the task.

Although it is not clear what specific personality factor(s) predicted life’s success, the study has important implications.

But the most significant one is that IQ or intelligence does not guarantee success.

If so, what determines success in employment?

Drake Baer in his article suggests that;

“If you do well on a test, it’s not just smarts that got you there, but your capacity to plan. To land a new job, you need “non-cognitive skills” like an ability to collaborate, show up on time, and send thoughtful follow-up emails.”

What determines success in academics? It’s personality. To succeed in school, you don’t need an above average intelligence but conscientiousness. It’s about goal and determination.

What do you think?

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