WASHINGTON - Intelligence in the workplace is not that different from
intelligence at school, according to the results of a meta-analysis of over one
hundred studies involving more than 20,000 people. The findings contradict the
popular notion that abilities required for success in the real world differ
greatly from what is needed to achieve success in the classroom. The results
are published in the January issue of the American Psychological Association's
(APA) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
General cognitive ability, or g, has remained controversial since the
was introduced nearly a century ago. Research has shown that g predicts a broad
spectrum of behaviors and performances, including academic achievement, job
performance, creativity and health-related behaviors. Despite this, many
people, including some social scientists, continue to believe that the
abilities required for job success and abilities required for academic success
In their meta-analysis of 127 studies involving 20,352 participants,
psychologists Nathan R. Kuncel, Ph.D., and Sarah A. Hezlett, Ph.D., of the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Deniz S. Ones, Ph.D., of the
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus, set out to directly test whether
the abilities related to performance in academic settings overlap with those
predicting performance in work settings. To do this, they focused on studies
that involved the Miller Analogies Test, or MAT. The MAT has been used for
admissions decisions into graduate schools as well as in hiring and promotion
decisions in the workplace. In use since 1926, the MAT is composed of analogies
that require knowledge in many different areas, including sciences, literature,
the arts, history and vocabulary.
The researchers found that the MAT was valid for predicting performance
academic and work environments, providing direct evidence that g is related to
success in multiple domains. The MAT was found to be a valid predictor of
several aspects of graduate student performance as well as measures of job
performance, potential and creativity. The validity was at least as high for
work criteria as for school criteria. The researchers found that the MAT was a
valid predictor of seven of the eight measures of graduate student performance,
five of the six school-to-work transition performance criteria, and all four of
the work performance criteria.
"Although the academic setting places a greater emphasis on the acquisition
knowledge, performance in both academic and work settings is predicted by g,"
according to the researchers. "Both situations involve learning and contain
complex or practical tasks and performance in both situations is partially
determined by previously acquired levels of knowledge and skill. General
cognitive ability is related to all three of these, which is why it should come
as no surprise that the same cognitive ability test is a valid predictor of
performance in both settings."
So why do so many people believe that the abilities required for success
different for academic and work environments? "Perhaps the fact that tests and
measures are often developed for particular settings, either educational or
occupational, has perpetuated this myth," say the authors. "Our prediction
was - and the results confirm - that there is a general factor of cognitive
ability which is a broad predictor of numerous life outcomes."
Article: "Academic Performance, Career Potential, Creativity, and Job
Performance: Can One Construct Predict Them All?," Nathan R. Kuncel and Sarah
A. Hezlett, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Deniz S. Ones,
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus; Journal of Personality and Social
Psychology, Vol. 86, No. 1.