Remember the famous line in the movie The Sixth Sense? We can amend that to how we cross paths with others in our day-to-day activities. But the line would be just a little different. We would say, “I see stupid people.”
When we see people treating others like trash or engaging in some kind of non-ethical behavior, this is the thought we might have. We will likely scold ourselves and try to remember that humility is a virtue and that we are not always the brightest light in the harbor, either.
But in a new study of over 1,000 people from the United Kingdom, we find that the intuition about these individuals might be a bit more accurate than initially thought. Overall, people who show fewer negative behaviors – such as stealing, cheating, stealing, purposely harassing others, or breaking the rules – have higher IQs. They are more well-behaved and less aggressive.
There was a difference in the gap based on gender. The females, “on the wrong side of the tracks,” had an IQ five points lower than their peers. But troublemaking males were 10 points lower than their peers.
It should be noted that high IQ isn’t always a guarantee that you’ll make good decisions. – You might take the short/easy route in problem-solving despite the high IQ, or rational thought might be compromised by missing information or strategies. Furthermore, IQ scores can be a poor measure of the essential tools of rational thinking. While they measure your ability to rationalize, they may miss whether you’re inclined to do so in a given circumstance. This is how a “smart” person does something dumb. Plus, how we define “smart” should not be based solely on an IQ test result.
The key is to be able to cognitively understand all the potential ramifications of specific behaviors if we are to make the best decisions. There will always be a tendency to be egocentrically biased for reasons of evolutionary survival. But we also must be able to decipher social clues and interact well with others.
It’s possible that people with lower IQs act up more often simply because they struggle with these concepts. We know that incompetent people usually don’t recognize their lack of knowledge or skill. Similarly, those who score lower on the IQ test might miss how the lack of kindness, ethics, or conformity might cause problems.
The study suggests that leaders might be able to get a ballpark idea of IQ based on how someone acts on the job – those employees who are well-behaved could possess the extra spark of intelligence that could lead to innovation. A well-behaved rulebreaker might seem very “off,” but in reality, it shows that those who are more social might be able to bring new ideas in such a way that respects people, processes, and protocols.
This does not mean there is no hope for the “problematic” worker. It might mean providing additional guidance and providing more explicit direction on what to do (or not do). Modeling and patience will be critical, and you will decide to what level inappropriate behaviors are accepted as part of the workplace culture.
Remember that environment is also a factor. Depending on what’s around them, people can behave very differently. Peer pressure may lead an exemplary employee to engage in questionable acts. Or, two normally-well behaved workers might push each other’s buttons. So, as you informally assess the intelligence of your team members to place them well and help everyone along, ensure you are looking for what’s generally consistent for someone over the long haul.