Intelligence In The Workplace

According to the result of a meta-analysis of more the 100 studies involving over 20,000 people, the abilities or skills needed [to succeed] at work does not differ much from the abilities or abilities required [to succeed] at school.

This result of this meta-study is published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (January 2004), the press release of which appears in

The findings of this meta-analysis refute popular beliefs that abilities or intelligence in the workplace is vastly different from abilities or intelligence needed to succeed in school.

General cognitive ability remains a popular and controversial subject since its introduction a century ago.

Studies have shown that general cognitive ability "predicts a broad spectrum of behaviors and performances." This includes academic performance, work performance, creativity, even health-related behaviors.

Nathan R. Kuncel, PhD., and Sarah A. Hezlett, PhD., of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Deniz S. Ones, PhD., of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus worked to test whether abilities required in the workplace differs from abilities required in class.

The researchers concentrated on studies that used the Miller Analogies Test (MAT). MAT has been used in both in graduate schools admissions and in hiring and promotion decisions.

MAT has been used for such decisions since 1926. It is made up of analogies that require knowledge in various subjects such as sciences, arts, literature, vocabulary, and history.

The researchers determined that MAT is valid to predict both academic and job performance, thus presenting "direct evidence" that cognitive ability is linked to success in different domains.

MAT was also found valid to predict several aspects of graduate student performances, and measure job performance, potential and creativity.

The validity of MAT was "at least as high" for workplace criteria as for classroom criteria.

The researchers also found that MAT was valid in predicting "7 out of the 8 measures of graduate student performance, 5 out of the 6 school-to-work transition performance criteria, and of the 4 work performance criteria."

The researchers say that "although the academic setting places a greater emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, performance in both academic and work settings is predicted by [General cognitive ability]. 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."

As for the popular belief that the necessary skills for work and academic environments are so different, the researcher speculate that "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."

Source: APA. org

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