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IQ may not be the key to intelligence and good decision making.

As a study featured in Research Digest this week shows, while high IQ may be the key to academic success, it is critical thinking and...

...the ability to make judgements dispassionately without jumping to false conclusions...

... which directly affect our decision making ability.

We all probably know someone who is incredibly intelligent, but prone to making very stupid decisions; from locking their keys in their car, to falling for an online scam.

Research from The Thinking Skills and Creativityjournalsuggests that high IQ does not necessarily equate to good critical thinking.

A survey of 244 participants, a mix of students and other adults, tested both IQ and critical thinking skills using scenario questions to detect:

the use of cognitive skills or strategies that increase the possibility of a desirable outcome...reasoning that is purposeful, reasoned and goal-directed.

Questioning relating to real-life scenarios suggested a weaker link between IQ and critical thinking ability.

For these questions, contributors had to indicate their experience with situations:

These ranged from the mildly annoying...

  • sending a text message to the wrong person
  • locking yourself out 
  • sending an email with spelling errors to somebody important 

To the more severe:

  • having $1,000 or more in credit card debt
  • borrowed money to gamble 
  • contracted a sexually transmitted disease  

Although those with high intelligence did generally have less negative situation experience, critical thinking ability was more closely associated with the avoidance of these problematic situations than intelligence and overall:

those with higher critical thinking scores reported fewer negative life events.

It's therefore possible to have an average IQ, yet still be able to make good decisions that make life easier, or to have a really high IQ and leave yourself in impossible situations.

This may not be the answer to lifelong good decision making, though, as experts admit that there are no proven ways to enhance your critical thinking skills as:

it could not [be] identified where these skills were coming from.

HT Research Digest

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