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January 23, 2022

Are smarter people more likely to work cooperatively?

Although there has been considerable debate over just what IQ tests actually measure and might predict, studies have suggested that those who achieve higher scores are more likely to do well in school, earn more money, and even live longer.

But are would-be MENSA members out for themselves, or are they precisely the sort of people you want on your team?

Sign them up, says Garrett Jones, a professor at George Mason University, who feels that there is a strong relation between IQ and trust/trustworthiness.

"One of the standard games of trust and trustworthiness is the prisoner's dilemma. Two people deciding whether to work hard on a team project when the credit will be shared 50-50 no matter what; two tribes each deciding whether to make its own output or take the other's output; less naively, two firms deciding whether to carve up the auto market or instead engage in a price war," he explains.

Jones collected prisoner’s dilemma studies at different US universities, compared them to the schools’ SAT scores and found that when the experiment is done at a school with a higher average SAT score, the players are more likely to cooperate.

He found that students cooperate 5% to 8% more often for every 100 point increase in the school’s average SAT score. 

The key, of course, is that the players in a prisoner's dilmema experiment achieve mutual benefit if both parties cooperate, but suffer a big loss if they try to cooperate but their partner doesn't.

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...