Is it better to be intelligent or a critical thinker?


You might imagine that doing well in school or at work might lead to greater life satisfaction, but several large scale studies have failed to find evidence that IQ impacts life satisfaction or longevity.  Grossman and his colleagues argue that most intelligence tests fail to capture real-world decision-making and our ability to interact well with others.  This is, in other words, perhaps why “smart” people, do “dumb” things.

The ability to think critically, on the other hand, has been associated with wellness and longevity. Though often confused with intelligence, critical thinking is not intelligence.  Critical thinking is a collection of cognitive skills that allow us to think rationally in a goal-orientated fashion, and a disposition to use those skills when appropriate.

Is it better to be a critical thinker or to be intelligent? My latest research pitted critical thinking and intelligence against each other to see which was associated with fewer negative life events. People who were strong on either intelligence or critical thinking experienced fewer negative events, but critical thinkers did better.

Intelligence is largely determined by genetics. Critical thinking, though, can improve with training and the benefits have been shown to persist over time.  Anyone can improve their critical thinking skills: Doing so, we can say with certainty, is a smart thing to do.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Why Do Smart People Do Foolish Things?