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Better Open Than Intellectual: The Benefits of Investment Personality Traits for Learning

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Publication details

JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin
DateAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Dec 2017
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2018
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)562-573
Early online date11/12/17
Original languageEnglish


The investment theory of adult intelligence posits that individual differences in knowledge attainment result from people’s differences in cognitive ability and their propensity to apply and invest that ability, which is referred to as investment personality traits. Here, we differentiated intellectual (i.e., intellectual curiosity) and nonintellectual investment (i.e., openness to experience), and we tested their respective predictive validity for knowledge attainment in four independent lab-based studies (overall N = 649). Openness to experience was positively associated with knowledge attainment across all four studies, and this effect was by and large independent of cognitive ability. By contrast, intellectual curiosity was not related to knowledge attainment. The findings suggest that openness to experience, rather than intellectual curiosity, is the investment personality trait that broadly benefits learning and adult intelligence.

    Research areas

  • intellectual curiosity, intelligence, investment personality traits, learning, openness

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