When someone asks us to describe the people we know, the adjectives we often use are kind, funny, passionate and intelligent. Colloquially speaking, we consider intelligence to be part of who someone is yet we test it differently. Personalities are tested through questionnaires, but the IQ has its own particular test. Why is it that we consider intelligence to be separate from personality when it forms such a central part of who we are?

A new train of scientific thought is arising to challenge the psychological status quo. Led by Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman, he hopes to see intelligence redefined as one of the central elements of personality. His extensive writing and research on the subject are revolutionizing how scientists view the human psyche and was voted by the business insider as one of the 50 groundbreaking scientists who are changing the way we see the world.


Across his four critically acclaimed books Kaufman pieces together an argument about the central role that IQ plays in the continuing development of our personalities throughout our lives. His theory, regularly referred to as the dual-process theory of human intelligence,  argues that adaptation to tasks is the hallmark of mental capacity. The ability to adapt to tasks is based on a person’s goals and desires, and linked to what he describes as ‘creative greatness.’

The creativity to see what we want from the world and have the mental capacity to grasp how to go about getting it, whatever it might be, is the cornerstone of what we consider intelligence to be. From early man’s use of tools through to scientists discovering the human genome, the act of discovering something to improve our lives is what scientists consider intelligence.


Imagination and our desires, which are traditionally regarded as part of our personality, according to Kaufman, are intrinsically linked to intelligence. This serves as proof that IQ plays a predominant role in our personality. Kaufman goes further and suggests that individual characteristics such as passion and persistence are also essential traits of intelligence.

His theory isn’t mere speculation, one study on 478 participants (279 female, 199 male) tested abstract thought and knowledge with 15 multiple choices which measured the IQ, personality link. Of the 45 traits that were assessed in the test, nine were strongly and positively related to a higher IQ – intellectual engagement, intellectual creativity, mental quickness, intellectual competence, introspection, ingenuity, intellectual depth,  imagination and above all else openness to experience.

The openness to experience manifests itself in our personality as adventurousness and curiosity, both of which are common characteristics of intelligent people. Kaufman’s findings aren’t an isolated account of the link between the two. Colin DeYoung, a personality neuroscientist, wrote in the Cambridge Handbook of Intelligence that many personality traits clearly involve serious cognitive processes.

Although this is a new scientific theory, the evidence behind it is incredibly strong. By altering the way we view IQ it becomes a greater part of who we are. At present, the view of IQ as separate can be a burden for people and explains the high level of depression in people with high intelligence. By bringing personality and intelligence together, your brain ceases to be a social burden and instead is an integral part of your individuality.  

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