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Agency, Communion, and Intelligence among Twins

Poster (konferens)
Författare Fariba Mousavi
Trevor Archer
Thomas Nilsson
Sebastian Lundström
Henrik Anckarsäter
Danilo Garcia
Publicerad i 26th Association for Psychological Science Annual Convention. San Francisco, California, USA
Publiceringsår 2014
Publicerad vid Institutionen för neurovetenskap och fysiologi
Psykologiska institutionen
Centrum för etik, juridik och mental hälsa
Språk en
Ämnesord Agency; Character; Cognitive Abilities; Communion; Intelligence; Temperament
Ämneskategorier Psykiatri, Psykologi


Background: Recent research suggests that agentic (e.g., self-acceptance, self-control, goal-directed behavior) and communal (e.g., social affiliation, social tolerance, empathy and helpfulness) meta-cognitive strategies and principles are connected to higher levels of well-being and lower levels of dysfunction and suffering among adolescents. Using Cloninger’s model of personality, comprising 4 temperament (Harm Avoidance, Novelty Seeking, Reward Dependence, and Persistence) and 3 character (Self-directedness (i.e., agency), Cooperativeness (i.e., communion) and Self-transcendence) dimensions, it has been suggested that interventions targeting Self-directedness and Cooperativeness can lead to alleviation of destructive behaviour patterns, mental disorders and increased positive emotions, life satisfaction, sense of meaning, and well-being as a whole. Moreover, in contrast to the temperament dimensions, shared environmental effects influence Self-directedness and Cooperativeness during adolescence; this may not be the case earlier in childhood or later in adulthood. Hence, as environmental influences shift from adolescence to adulthood, interventions during this period in the life span might be successful. Nevertheless, using other models of personality, personality traits associated to agency have been linked to intelligence and academic performance. If so, interventions aimed to increase agency and communion might be constrained by fluid intelligence. The present study uses twin data from the Child and Adolescent Twin Study in Sweden (CATSS) to test the relationship between personality and cognitive ability. Method: Data was from a normal population sample of 370 15-year-old twins from the CATSS (159 girls and 211 boys), enriched for various types of mental health problems. Personality was measured using the Temperament and Character Inventory and intelligence with the fourth version of the Wechsler Intelligence Scales for Children (WISC-IV). Correlation analyses were conducted using random-selected twins from each dyad and separately for monozygotic and dizygotic twins, as well as for girls and boys. Results: There were no significant correlations between character and WISC-IV scales. The only significant, if weak, correlations between intelligence and personality dimensions were those between the temperament dimension of Persistence and different WISC-IV scales: Verbal Comprehension (r = .29, p < .01), Perceptual Reasoning (r = .22, p < .01), Working Memory (r = .20, p < .01), and the Full WISC-IV scale (r = .26, p < .01). This relationship could also be discerned between Persistence and the WISC-IV sub-scales: Vocabulary (r = .27, p < .01), Similarities (r = .24, p < .01), Comprehension (r = .22, p < .01), Matrix Reasoning (r = .23, p < .01), Digit Span (r = .16, p < .05) and Letter-Number Sequencing (r = .18, p < .05). The strength of these correlations was not significantly different between monozygotic and dizygotic twins (zobs between -0.19 and 0.13) or between girls and boys (zobs between -0.77 and 0.03). Conclusions: Persistence, a temperament dimension that measures heritable individual differences in eagerness of effort, ambition, perfectionism, and resistance to discouragement despite frustration and fatigue, is weakly linked to measures of cognitive abilities. This link does not seem to be moderated by zygocity or gender. More importantly, no relevant relationships were found for agency nor communion (i.e., Self-directedness or Cooperativeness) and cognitive ability. Hence, interventions aimed at improving Self-directedness and Cooperativeness should not be limited by variations in intelligence.

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