Myside Bias, Rational Thinking, and Intelligence

This interesting line of research reveals that, under ordinary circumstances, having a high IQ does not inoculate you from being biased in your judgments about arguments and supporting evidence.  That is, both those with higher measured IQ and those with lower measured IQ are equally likely to exhibit biases in evaluating the plausibility of arguments. As the authors argue, the value of rationality turns out to be a concept that is broader, and more important, than sheer computational facility.

Three comments:

1. This study looks only at measured IQ. It would be interesting to know whether bias is less in individuals who exhibit a certain profile of intelligences; say, high interpersonal intelligence.

2. This work builds on the work of my colleague of many years, David Perkins. Many years ago, he and his research team demonstrated that high measured intelligence did not entail a disposition to consider arguments other than those initially favored.

3. Work like this brings together two of my interests: what it means to be smart and what it means to try to do good work. A good worker is one who can look at evidence in a disinterested fashion; through clear glasses, not those which are strongly tinted. Unless one weds intellect to certain dispositions, it is unlikely to be used in a constructive way.

To read the article in its entirety click here.