‘Intelligent People Are More Likely to Trust Others’

Medical Xpress, March 12, 2014

Intelligent people are more likely to trust others, while those who score lower on measures of intelligence are less likely to do so, says a new study.

Oxford University researchers based their finding on an analysis of the General Social Survey, a nationally representative public opinion survey carried out in the United States every one to two years.

The authors say one explanation could be that more intelligent individuals are better at judging character and so they tend to form relationships with people who are less likely to betray them.

Another reason could be that smarter individuals are better at weighing up situations, recognising when there is a strong incentive for the other person not to meet their side of the deal.

The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, supports previous research that analysed data on trust and intelligence from European countries. The authors say the research is significant because social trust contributes to the success of important social institutions, such as welfare systems and financial markets. In addition, research shows that individuals who trust others report better health and greater happiness.


Lead author Noah Carl, from the Department of Sociology, said: ‘Intelligence is shown to be linked with trusting others, even after taking into account factors like marital status, education and income. This finding supports what other researchers have argued, namely that being a good judge of character is a distinct part of human intelligence which evolved through natural selection. However, there are other possible interpretations of the evidence, and further research is needed to disentangle them.’



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