Intelligence predicts cooperativeness better than conscientiousness does

We study how intelligence and personality affect the outcomes of groups, focusing on repeated interactions that provide the opportunity for profitable cooperation. Our experimental method creates two groups of subjects who have different levels of certain traits, such as higher or lower levels of Intelligence, Conscientiousness, and Agreeableness, but who are very similar otherwise. Intelligence has a large and positive long-run effect on cooperative behavior. The effect is strong when at the equilibrium of the repeated game there is a trade-off between short-run gains and long-run losses. Conscientiousness and Agreeableness have a natural, significant but transitory effect on cooperation rates.

That is by Eugenio Proto, Aldo Rustichini, and Andis Sofianos, forthcoming in the JPE.  Note that agreeable people do cooperate more at first, but they don’t have the strategic ability and consistency of the higher IQ individuals in these games.  Conscientiousness has multiple features, one of which is caution, and that deters cooperation, since the cautious are afraid of being taken advantage of.  So, at least in these settings, high IQ really is the better predictor of cooperativeness, especially over longer-term horizons.

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I can't tell from the explanation, but are the games structured in such a way that cooperation is the more successful long term strategy? If so the players are just making decisions in their own rational best interests. If the games were instead structured to reward non cooperative actions, intelligence might predict poor cooperation instead.

That probably depends on the actions of the other players

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Life is like that though. In the long term cooperation, is often the best strategy. Thus smart disagreeable people can cooperate just fine.

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It's a repeated prisoner's dilemma (PD). In the one-shot PD, it's a classic case of "smart for one, dumb for all": Rational behavior leads to the disastrous Nash equilibrium where we all rat on each other. Very informally, there's a trade-off between individual self-interest and group self-interest.

But their's is a repeated game--same game a few times--so as the folk theorem of game theory suggests, so (skipping details) it's rational to cooperate if you think other player is going to play "tit for tat," eye for an eye. I cooperate now because I live in dread fear that if I don't, you'll punish me in the next round. And you think the same about me, so we both gladly cooperate.

The big question is, which traits predict a higher likelihood of playing tit-for-tat or some similar eye for an eye strategy? It appears that IQ might just be that trait.

That's what chapter 5 of Hive Mind is about, link in my name, and it's also discussed in my two experimental papers on IQ in the repeated prisoner's dilemma--one solo-authored, one with al-Ubaydli & Weel.

Very glad to see further confirmation that smarter groups are more cooperative.

"biden decried trump calling his foes names, before the former vice president called him a “clown” and “no good S.O.B.,” according to Bloomberg."
+1postmodern!

How could anyone call THE PRESIDENT a CLOWN after excellent Kentuky Derby ANALYSIS!

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I think that actually all they have shown is "smart people are better at winning games".

I am quite skeptical of the applicability to real-world cooperation. In the real world, situations are not usually game-like with clear strategies, goals, and winners. Cooperation is often as much a value-based choice as it is strategic.

+1 good comment

Do high-IQ people live in a more cooperate-cooperate world than low-IQ people?

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Spoiler: Life is a game as well!

Fortunately, your suggestion that IQ doesn't matter much for cooperation and win-win group outcomes in more realistic real-world settings has been repeatedly tested, and the results are now reported in convenient book format.

Indeed, the introduction to my book starts off with just the kind of situation you mention--two people haggling in a flexible, fluid negotiation scenario, no clear strategies. And you can guess the outcome.

Jones: "two people haggling in a flexible, fluid negotiation scenario, no clear strategies"

Seems like, if they're at the table, there's probably a benefit to cooperation. Makes more sense to start recording before they go to the table.

Do the smart choose to go to the table more often, or do they as often as not choose not go to the table because, the smart thing to do is to continue competing?

God bless you and have a great day!

Give a hand to Garett "Non-Sequitur" Jones everybody...! Have a great night.

I still prefer former Pirates slugger Garrett Jones

You and pagerank both.

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I didn't say "IQ doesn't matter" in real-world settings. I suggested they probably haven't demonstrated that it matters. Big difference.

I suppose "life is a game" in the trivial sense that anything with goals, or even completely open-ended call be a game. There are even games that intend to simulate real life, so there you go. But it's not a zero-sum pursuit where everyone is chasing the same goal. Further, it's real, in the sense that your actions can have major consequences that help or harm others, unlike an artificial experiment. This is a huge difference. I would happily play a game that involves (pretend) killing my opponent, but that says nothing about my likelihood of committing a real murder.

For these reasons I doubt the external validity of this and many similar studies. My interest is in the scientific methods/quality, though. I have no opinion on how important IQ actually is in real-world cooperation. It may in fact be quite important.

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Cooperation as a value IS a strategic choice. It's also more strategic the more convincingly you choose it. Which is why it sometimes looks like less of a choice.

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At my job there's a phrase for that: "repeat business is the best business". We want to squeeze the customer budget but at the same time we want them to return soon with more projects. Thus we cooperate with them.

I also cooperate with my neighbors, with my family,friends...cooperation is a real-world issue. Is everyone here retired and shouting at kids to get off their proverbial lawns?

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Quality of cooperation > quantity? People who are too quick to cooperate may get burned by free riding and exploitation and be shy to trust again.

I'm skeptical that intelligence -> cooperation in a general sense. In a game engineered for an incentive to cooperate and intelligence helps you work it out.

In an "All against all" general social scenario that is perhaps more common, eh.... Probably just means faster adaptation. I bet they're more consciously conformist where there are social status and monetary returns to conformity as well.

I think this explains why Game Theory vocab around "free riders" tends to flourish among the Conscientious however. Not only are Conscientious more "wary" about free riding, they're less likely to choose to actually be free riders.

Maybe smart people are better at avoiding free riders and figuring out who they can trust?

Probably. Probably better at free riding and deceit and destroying norms of cooperation and trust when it suits their self interest as well.

Maybe, but I would point out that if your goal is free-riding, the last thing you want to do is destroy norms of cooperation and trust. That greatly limits opportunities for free-riding.

Certainly, but not free riding at all because you wish to preserve norms of cooperation and trust for the purposes of some future potential free riding... limit free riding even more ;)

Smarter people are better at figuring out that free-riding is not a successful long term strategy.

And conversely, dumb people are more likely to engage in obvious free-riding and get punished for it. The bar may be very low.

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Big assumption! Rather a trusting one in society as whole. If true, then I'd concede that the smart are more likely to be "cooperative" but I'm not sure it's true.

Big assumption!

Is it?

There are situations where cooperation usually works out badly for you. I'd expect the high-IQ people to work that out more quickly than the low-IQ people, all else being equal. But the low-IQ people might have an initial advantage if their daily life is spend in more places where playing defect is the right move.

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It's early, but I think this thread will prove to have lots of conscientious folks.

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Note that strategic ability and consistency are defined to be part of IQ, but cooperativeness and the "multiple features" of conscientiousness are deemed independent variables. This seems like angels dancing on pins.

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Recently, I spent all the time it took to watch the twenty-five episode 1964 BBC documentary "The Great War", the 1980s multi-episode PBS production "Vietnam: A Television History", and the more recent Burns, et al., documentary (ten episodes?) on the Vietnam War.

I came away with an appreciation for how poorly the metrics of war and of war-making can account for actual battlefield conditions (at least, I got a taste of how those approaches fared across much of the previous century).

As we continue to have to hear academics of all their stripes cite numerous measurements said to pertain to human epistemic and volitional realities, instead of eliciting confidence in our Brainiac Class, we might be tempted instead to consider the careers of intelligent and conscientious war planners like Robert Strange McNamara with his lunatic manias for the metric and the measured or like Allied and Central Powers generals' and field marshals' confidence that THEIR plans for campaigns of attrition would win "the war to end all wars" (btw: was that slogan "the war to end all wars" a piece of optimistic intelligence or a sample of informed conscientiousness?).

The applications that our Brainiac Class commonly puts intelligence to, that is, often work to undermine their claims about the values of applied intelligence--esp. when "intelligence" is not pleased to submit to any other guiding criteria or is pleased to concede to directions dictated not by intelligence itself or by its vaunted metrical criteria but by unexamined impulses and mechanisms of human volition.

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Seems that "improve general intelligence to improve the amount of cooperation" might then fail as an arms-race: each person becomes more intelligent and thus able to see the value of cooperation over the fear of the sort of scams your person of typical-intelligence might think up, but the sorts of scams also become more sophisticated as intelligence rises, so intelligent prudence then counsels less cooperation.

Only if the yield of scams is greater than cost of implementing them.

That's entirely an empirical question for the system. It's perfectly possible to find a system that you just can't play scams cost-effectively against an intelligent counterpart. There's hope then that smart players will all converge on the mutual co-operation (whilst keeping one eye open).

See: Amsterdam diamond markets, etc.

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Or to put it another way:

Scams may be cost-effective against stupid opponents, but increasingly not cost-effective against intelligent counterparts. The arms-race can lead to mutual trust than rather distrust.

There are empirical grounds for hope; violent criminality is a low-IQ game. Smarter people gain more from co-operation, generally.

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> high IQ really is the better predictor of cooperativeness

I am not a esport fan but I think most of the esports involved cooperative team of members with various different skills. Looking only at the very successful national cooperative teams for 8 esports such as Cstrike, Lol, Sc2, Csgo, Dota2, Ssbm, Hs and Ow, as proxied by the number of top world ranking national teams per million of population, it is very striking statistically that they all have strong significant correlation to verbal IQ for the 8 esports but 4 of them have no correlation with Quant IQ (hack and slash games?) and the other 4 have significant but weaker statistical correlations. High verbal IQ really is the better predictor of successful cooperativeness.

http://i63.tinypic.com/2uj3tk5.jpg

Looking at the Csgo example more closely, the high performing countries are with high verbal IQ and they tend to cluster more tightly with the global regression trend line while at the other end the countries are more disperse. The left end countries like Afghanistan and Syria are more disperse could be because of clannishness and less cooperation. The plot against quant IQ shows the outliers at the high quant IQ like China which might be due to more individuality rather than clannishness. Thus mid range quant IQ countries seem to be diverse in cooperativeness, there are more of them in that range and in strong competition. At higher quant IQ the diversity seems to have reduce somewhat (countries with more central planning?) but at the high end they might become more individualistic.

http://i64.tinypic.com/311lvm1.png

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OK - Here's the Steve Sailor bait:

High IQ --> High Co-operation --> High Social Trust / capital --> successful nations.

As an aside, I've noticed intelligent people can often see when their situation is a iterated PD, and seek mutual co-operation with assurance mechanisms. Idiots often have a hard time realising they are in a common trap.

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