Intelligence: Can Personality Be a Predictor?

Headshot of Dr. Colin DeYoung

A Newsweek article titled, “People With These Personality Traits Tend to be More Intelligent,” explores which personality traits can predict intelligence. The article notes that while intelligence can be easily determined with quantitative measures, personality is harder to determine, yet still important when it comes to predicting intelligence. Personality is often theorized under the Big Five dimensions. Dr. Colin DeYoung remarks that Openness is the dimension most commonly linked to intelligence. Openness is a broad dimension that includes such traits as creativity, intellect, and imagination. Additionally, DeYoung notes that intelligence is also related to personality traits like empathy and compassion because 

“people who are more sympathetic to the perspective of others and able to put themselves in someone else's shoes have a more complex way of seeing the world.” 

Personality traits linked with intelligence have both genetic and environmental influences. For instance, studying/living abroad can increase openness to new ideas and experiences and, therefore, potentially impact one’s intellect. DeYoung adds that education is one of the most important environmental factors influencing intelligence and reminds us that intelligence and personality should never be viewed as static. 


Colin DeYoung, PhD, Associate Professor, Area Director for Personality, Individual Differences and Behavior Genetics in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota.

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