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Personality and intelligence: persistence, not self-directedness, cooperativeness or self-transcendence, is related to twins’ cognitive abilities

Journal article
Authors Fariba Mousavi
Sandor Rozsa
Thomas Nilsson
Trevor Archer
Henrik Anckarsäter
Danilo Garcia
Published in PeerJ
Volume 3
Pages Article Number: e1195
ISSN 2167-8359
Publication year 2015
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Department of Psychology
Centre for Ethics, Law, and Mental Health
Pages Article Number: e1195
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1195
Keywords Cognitiveability,Cooperativeness,Intelligence,Self-directedness,Temperamentand character inventory, Twins
Subject categories Psychology, Health Sciences, Clinical Medicine

Abstract

Background. A person-centered approach focusing on the interaction of an individual’s temperament-character-life events is essential in the path of individuals’ well-being. In this context, three character traits, Self-directedness (e.g., self-acceptance, self-control, goal-directed behavior), Cooperativeness (e.g., social affiliation, social tolerance, empathy and helpfulness) and Self-transcendence (e.g., spiritual acceptance, transpersonal identification), measured using Cloninger’s model of personality are suggested to help the individual to regulate and resolve the conflicts derived from her/his temperament combinations as a reaction to life events. However, if character is related to the individual’s cognitive ability, then this association might limit any intervention that focuses on character development. We used data from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS) to investigate the relationship between personality and cognitive ability. Method. The sample consisted of 370 15-year-old twins (159 girls/211 boys), 192 of whom screen-positive with various types of mental health problems. We used the Temperament and Character Inventory to measure personality and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC-IV) to measure intelligence. The relationship was investigated using correlation analyses using random-selected twins from each dyad and separately for monozygotic and dizygotic twins. Additional analyses investigated the genetic and environmental effects on personality and cognitive ability in this specific sample. Results. There were no significant correlations between the WISC-IV indices and any of the character traits (i.e., Self-directedness, Cooperativeness, and Self-transcendence). Persistence was significantly related, if weak, to four WISC-IV indices: Verbal Comprehension, Perceptual Reasoning, Working Memory, and the Full WISC-IV Scale. Post-hoc cross-twin/cross-trait analyses showed that the Persistence-cognitive ability correlation might depend on common genetic effects. The WISC-IV indices showed a relatively large genetic influence, while earlier findings about the etiology of temperament and character traits using the whole CATSS sample were replicated in this sub-sample of twins. Conclusions. The results indicate that what individuals make of themselves intentionally (i.e., their character) was not associated to intelligence. Persistence, a temperament dimension that measures heritable individual differences in eagerness of effort, ambition, perfectionism, and resistance to discouragement despite frustration and fatigue, was weakly linked to intelligence. Suggesting that, at least during adolescence, interventions targeting character development are not limited by the individual’s intelligence.

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