World's Wealthiest May Actually Be Less Intelligent Than Those Who Don't Earn As Much : ScienceAlert

World’s Wealthiest May Actually Be Less Intelligent Than Those Who Don’t Earn As Much : ScienceAlert

Being at the top of the income scale doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smarter than average, according to a new study – and those in the top 1% of the income scale score lower on income tests. cognitive ability than those who earn slightly less than them.

The study’s researchers say this “cognitive ability plateau” among top earners shows that at the highest salary scales, the resources available due to someone’s family background and lucky career breaks have more weight than overall intelligence.

A team of researchers from Linköping University in Sweden, the European University Institute in Italy and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands say that better cognitive ability plays more of a role lower down the scale. salary.

“We find that the relationship between ability and salary is strong overall, but above €60,000 ($64,407) per year, ability stabilizes at a modest level of +1 standard deviation,” write the authors. researchers in their report. published article.

“The top 1% even score slightly lower in cognitive abilities than those in income strata just below them.”

This is based on data from 59,387 Swedish men who took a military conscription test when they were 18 or 19 years old. Although this limits the results in terms of nationality and gender, it still provides a relatively large sample across a variety of pay levels and occupations.

The findings challenge the standard narrative that many live in a meritocracy where success and higher levels of income are earned by superior intelligence and talent. In the most successful cases, the data here shows that intelligence does not increase as much as success when income increases more and more.

That’s not to say that being smart or studying hard doesn’t matter at all in terms of how much you earn – it plays a role – but that at the highest pay levels, other factors come into play, and these factors become more important over time.

These can include things like socioeconomic background, culture, personality traits, and luck.

“The small initial differences in success between individuals do not cancel out over time, but rather evolve into win-win distributions characterized by extreme inequalities,” write the researchers.

The study also found that with higher salary scales, job prestige does not increase with cognitive ability: in professions such as doctors, lawyers, and professors, more prestige does not seem directly related to more income.

All of this is important in a world where the ultra-rich keep getting richer and have more influence on the global political, social and economic landscapes. Those very high earners won’t always be the smartest people in the room.

With increased focus on inequality across the world, the argument that those who earn the most pay deserve it the most is one that needs to be challenged, researchers point out – especially at the top of the ladder. .

“The past few years have seen a lot of academic and public discussion of rising inequality,” write the researchers. “Along one important dimension of merit – cognitive ability – we find no evidence that those in the best jobs that pay extraordinary salaries are more deserving than those who earn only half those salaries.”

The research was published in the European Sociological Review.

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