• Sunday, February 25, 2024
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Curiosity Is as Important as Intelligence


There seems to be wide support for the idea that we are living in an “age of complexity,” which implies that the world has never been more intricate. Why are some people more able to manage that? It is in part determined by a person’s disposition, but there are three key psychological qualities that enhance our ability to manage complexity:

+ IQ: IQ stands for intelligence quotient and refers to mental ability. IQ affects a wide range of real-world outcomes, such as job performance and objective career success. Higher levels of IQ enable people to learn and solve new problems faster. Complex environments are richer in information, and demand more brainpower or deliberate thinking from us. IQ is a measure of that brainpower.

+ EQ: EQ stands for emotional quotient and concerns our ability to perceive, control and express emotions. EQ relates to complexity management in three main ways. First, individuals with higher EQ are less susceptible to stress and anxiety. Complex situations are likely to induce pressure and stress, but a high EQ acts as a buffer. Second, EQ is a key ingredient of interpersonal skills, which means that people with a higher EQ are better equipped to navigate complex organizational politics and to advance in their careers. Third, people with higher EQ tend to be more entrepreneurial, so they are more proactive in exploiting opportunities, taking risks and turning creative ideas into actual innovations.

+ CQ: CQ stands for curiosity quotient and concerns having a hungry mind. People with a higher CQ are more inquisitive and open to new experiences. They tend to generate original ideas and are counter-conformist. Some evidence suggests that CQ is important for managing complexity in two major ways. First, individuals with a higher CQ are generally more tolerant of ambiguity. Second, CQ leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art. Knowledge and expertise, much like experience, translate complex situations into familiar ones.

Although IQ is hard to coach, EQ and CQ can be developed. As Albert Einstein said: “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

(Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in personality profiling and psychometric testing. He is a professor of business psychology at University College London.)