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People with 'intellectual arrogance' get better grades

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

People with higher 'intellectual arrogance' - who think they know it all - get better grades, a new study has found.

The finding was a surprise to researchers at Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, who had theorised that "intellectual humility" - having an accurate or moderate view of one's intelligence and being open to criticism and ideas - would correlate with grades.

In the study, researchers found that being full of oneself when it came to rating one's intellectual arrogance - an exaggerated view of intellectual ability and knowledge - instead generally predicted academic achievement, especially on individual course work.

"One possibility is that people who view themselves as intellectually arrogant know what they know and that translates to increases in academic performance," said researcher Wade C Rowatt, Baylor professor of psychology and neuroscience.

The study also found that when rating themselves on a "humble-ometer," people generally did not see themselves as others see them.

With group projects, other team members gave better evaluations to those they viewed as humble, the study found.

In the study, 103 undergraduate students worked for a full semester in groups of four to six members in upper-level psychology courses.

They did varied tasks, both individually and together. Then they took tests - first individually, then with fellow group members, who gave feedback on each member's work. Students earned credit for individual and group performances.

Afterwards, each person completed a questionnaire judging the personalities of each group member, including themselves. They measured "intellectual humility," based on such traits as "open to criticism" and "knows what he/she is not good at."

They also measured "intellectual arrogance," based on such traits as "is close-minded" and "believes own ideas superior to others' ideas."

Many who rated themselves high in humbleness also rated themselves high on such virtues as competence, agreeableness and leadership.

Groups tended to view people as intellectually arrogant whom they saw as being high in dominance, extraversion and wanting to be the centre of attention, but low in agreeableness and conscientiousness, researchers said.

That differed from another portion of the research, in which 135 participants who did not know one another were split into groups of three to five, spending only about 45 minutes together to share their strengths and weaknesses, brainstorm about a theoretical scenario in which they had extra fingers, work together on math and verbal questions and discuss their results.

In that case, participants did not reach consensus about others' intellectual humility or arrogance.

The research is published in the Journal of Research in Personality.

First Published: Sun, October 11 2015. 14:22 IST