Uthållighet viktigare än intelligens för att bli framgångsrik

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Erik Stattin tipsar om en bra artikel av hypade författren Jonah Lehrer (som har bloggen The Frontal Cortex).

I Boston Globe skriver Lehrer en intressant artikel som handlar om att IQ-forskningen fokuserat för snävt på intelligens som ett mått på framgång. Andra faktorer spelar stor roll. Lehrer pekar på uthållighet och beslutsamhet som viktiga egenskaper hos framgångsrika personer:

The new focus on grit is part of a larger scientific attempt to study the personality traits that best predict achievement in the real world. While researchers have long focused on measurements of intelligence, such as the IQ test, as the crucial marker of future success, these scientists point out that most of the variation in individual achievement – what makes one person successful, while another might struggle – has nothing to do with being smart. Instead, it largely depends on personality traits such as grit and conscientiousness. It’s not that intelligence isn’t really important – Newton was clearly a genius – but that having a high IQ is not nearly enough.

Consider, for instance, a recent study led by Duckworth that measured the grittiness of cadets at West Point, the elite military academy. Although West Point is highly selective, approximately 5 percent of cadets drop out after the first summer of training, which is known as “Beast Barracks.” The Army has long searched for the variables that best predict whether or not cadets will graduate, using everything from SAT scores to physical fitness. But none of those variables were particularly useful. In fact, it wasn’t until Duckworth tested the cadets of the 2008 West Point class using a questionnaire – the test consists of statements such as “Setbacks don’t discourage me” – that the Army found a measurement that actually worked. Duckworth has since repeated the survey with subsequent West Point classes, and the result is always the same : the cadets that remain are those with grit.

Det ligger lite i linje med vad Malcolm Gladwell pratar om i sin nya bok Outliers: The story of great success. Där menar han att många framgångsrika personer t.ex. (Bill Gats, Steve Jobs m.fl.) har haft turen att befinna sig i ett kontext och en tid som givit dem kunskaper och tidig tillgång till nya idéer. Efter 10 000 timmars övning har de blivit experter på ett område och har kunnat lansera nya projekt före andra tack vare att de har ägnat så mycket tid åt att bli bättre och utvecklas. Lehrer tar också ett annat exempel:

Lewis Terman, the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, came to a similar conclusion. He spent decades following a large sample of “gifted” students, searching for evidence that his measurement of intelligence was linked to real world success. While the most accomplished men did have slightly higher scores, Terman also found that other traits, such as “perseverance,” were much more pertinent. Terman concluded that one of the most fundamental tasks of modern psychology was to figure out why intelligence is not a more important part of achievement: “Why this is so, and what circumstances affect the fruition of human talent, are questions of such transcendent importance that they should be investigated by every method that promises the slightest reduction of our present ignorance.”

Intelligenstest används ju rikligt i rekryteringssammanhang. Även om de bland den stora allmänheten har dåligt rykte. Cirka 25 % av en persons prestation brukar man förklara med intelligens. Ganska lite egentligen. Den största anledningen till att man hållit fast vid IQ-test är att de är lätta att mäta på ett snabbt och effektivt sätt. Men kanske borde uthållighet och beslutsamhet bli nästa störa område att testa noggrant. Lehrer fortsätter sitt resonemang:

One of the main obstacles for scientists trying to document the influence of personality traits on achievement was that the standard definition of traits – attributes such as conscientiousness and extroversion – was rather vague. Duckworth began wondering if more narrowly defined traits might prove to be more predictive. She began by focusing on aspects of conscientiousness that have to do with “long-term stamina,” such as maintaining a consistent set of interests, and downplayed aspects of the trait related to short-term self-control, such as staying on a diet. In other words, a gritty person might occasionally eat too much chocolate cake, but they won’t change careers every year. “Grit is very much about the big picture,” Duckworth says. “It’s about picking a specific goal off in the distant future and not swerving from it.”

After developing a survey to measure this narrowly defined trait – you can take the survey at www.gritstudy.com – Duckworth set out to test the relevance of grit. The initial evidence suggests that measurements of grit can often be just as predictive of success, if not more, than measurements of intelligence. For instance, in a 2007 study of 175 finalists in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Duckworth found that her simple grit survey was better at predicting whether or not a child would make the final round than an IQ score.

Jag kommer att tänka på alla idrottsmän. De flesta har haft lite talang men framför allt ett målmedvetet fokus som gjort att de tränat till förbannelse. Att löpträna på myrarna som skidåkaren Per Elofsson gjorde och blev bäst i världen är kanske mer slitsamt för psyket än för kroppen.

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