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Intelligence is more key to success than kindness, study finds

Nice guys may not always finish last, but a new study suggests that they are at a pretty big disadvantage in the workplace. Research led by the University of Bristol has revealed that intelligence is a greater predictor of success than other qualities such as kindness, generosity, or conscientiousness.

In fact, the experts found that intelligent people who tend to be less nice to co-workers are likely to have the greatest career success in the long term. While kind and generous individuals do good for others, the benefits are short-lived, according to the study.

The research team developed games in order to identify what makes people more cooperative at work. The experts discovered that individuals with higher intelligence also showed superior levels of cooperation, which hypothetically led to higher earnings.

“We wanted to explore what factors make us effective social animals,” said study co-author Professor Eugenio Proto. “In other words, what enables us to behave optimally in situations when cooperation is potentially beneficial not only to us, but to our neighbors, people in the same country or who share the same planet.”

“People might naturally presume that people who are nice, conscientious and generous are automatically more co-operative,” he said.

The researchers were surprised to find that individuals who were less kind and generous were the drivers of better cooperation in the group.

“Through our research, we find overwhelming support for the idea that intelligence is the primary condition for a socially cohesive, co-operative society,” said Professor Proto.

“A good heart and good behavior have an effect too but it’s transitory and small. An additional benefit of higher intelligence in our experiment, and likely in real life, is the ability to process information faster, hence to accumulate more extensive experience, and to learn from it.”

Professor Proto explained that, when applied to the workplace, intelligent people are more aware of the bigger picture and act accordingly. He said that these individuals “will ultimately be promoted and financially rewarded.”

The research suggests that intelligent people can better anticipate the effects that their actions will have on others, and this ability leads to more success.

The study is published in the Journal of Political Economy.

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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