IQ vs. self discipline

Dave Munger of Cognitive Daily writes High IQ: Not as good for you as you thought, in which he discusses research that looked at IQ and "self discipline" as predictors for academic performance.  The surprise?  Self-discipline was more highly correlated than was IQ.

Both IQ and self-discipline are correlated with GPA, but self-discipline is a much more important contributor: those with low self-discipline have substantially lower grades than those with low IQs, and high-discipline students have much better grades than high-IQ students. Even after adjusting for the student’s grades during the first marking period of the year, students with higher self-discipline still had higher grades at the end of the year. The same could not be said for IQ. Further, the study found no correlation between IQ and self-discipline — these two traits varied independently.

As Munger says, there is much more to be studied, but this is an interesting result, as possibly why I am interested in the general idea of "personal effectiveness" as relates to focusing on a task and getting my stuff done.  Anecdotally, I find that I do my best work when I do one thing and move to the next, rather than jumping around willy-nilly.  And I see the same thing in others.  For those that missed it last year, here is an entertaining video about Getting My Stuff Done that I think of when I find myself free-associating, instead of working.

2 Comment(s)

Chuck Brady said:

I found this to be a very interesting read. It is a subject I have often pondered myself. I also try to understand the difference between intelligence and wisdom.

I am always amazed at how people who seem so intelligent can often make such poor choices in business and in life.



I am not so sure why this is news. The "smart but lazy" syndrome has been well known for years. That is why generally, colleges prefer students with higher GPAs and lower SATs rather than the reverse - because the latter suggests someone who is smart but lazy, i.e., someone who as potential and does not apply his or herself.

I worry about this on a personal level as well. I have one daughter who intellectually is very bright (reading before kindergarden, doing math easily in her head) and catches on quickly, yet she is not particularly organized or disciplined. My younger daughter is also very smart but not quite as precocious as her older sister, yet she works very hard and demands alot of herself. You can guess which one I worry about more in the long run.

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