IQ and Morality; IQ and Job Performance

From Henry Dampier, Sucks To Your IQ:

It’s a profound mistake, however, to act like it’s the only thing that matters, to say that grouping people into a country or institution based on their innate intelligence alone is the way to make the Tower of Babel political construct work properly.
//
In a similar way that the reductionist view of race is stupid, the reductionist view of intelligence and its importance is also misguided.
//
One reason why not to treat intelligence as the be-all-and-end-all is that intelligence of a person says nothing about their character, values, religion, or aesthetic sensibility. When you stuff the smartest people from all around the world into a classroom, you get a graduate student lecturing in an unintelligible accent to an alienated student body which has no sense of working towards a single common purpose.

He’s right about some parts, but wrong about this.

Dampier is subtly invoking the ‘evil genius’ trope that somehow high intellect must come at some cost to morality, which is a tactic used by the left in turning high-IQ into a handicap. It’s not the job of the professor to make his students care, it’s the job of the student to have to motivation to want to care. Horse, water, etc…Abstract concepts that may not immediately have a purpose can have profound implications later, examples being electromagnetism and relativity.

As for the science of IQ and morality – the results may be inconclusive. Studies also show a negative correlation between ‘g’ and negative personality traits (neuroticism , aggression), and no correlation between IQ and agreeableness:

No significant association between agreeableness and g has been found in previous research.[18][25] However, some components of agreeableness have been found to be related to intelligence. For example, aggression is negatively associated with intelligence (r is around -.20) [18][38][39] because unintelligent people may experience more frustration, which may lead to aggression [40] and aggression and intelligence may share some biological factors.[41] In addition, emotional perception and emotional facilitation, which are also components of agreeableness, have been found to be significantly correlated with intelligence.[42][43] This may be because emotional perception and emotional facilitation are components of emotional intelligence and some researchers have found that emotional intelligence is a Second-Stratum Factor of g.[44]

From Herrnstein and Murray, low-IQ is positively correlated with social problems:

Herrnstein and Murray found that when they moved the average IQ down statistically by just 3 points, from 100 to 97, all social problems were exacerbated: the number of women chronically dependent on welfare increased by 7%; illegitimacy increased by 8%; men interviewed in jail increased by 12%; and the number of permanent high school dropouts increased by nearly 15%.

As shown above, low-IQ is positively correlated with incarceration, welfare dependency, illegitimacy, unemployment, and low educational attainment, which confer’s with Herrnstein and Murray’s analysis.

Until recently, Silicon Valley was the last corporate outpost of the use of IQ-like tests (fittingly, because the test was developed at Stanford). The SAT is fading in importance as a selection mechanism for universities.

It’s fading because the left has gone to great lengths to discredit such tests as racist and classist despite the fact the SAT was originally designed to help low-income students get into prestigious universities. But because the wrong race of students score well, the test has to go or be dumbed-down, according to the left. The good news is IQ-like tests are still used by a handful of companies that can afford to fight the disparate impact litigation that sometimes arises from the use of such tests, and I (and others) have argued that the widespread of such tests can help solve the student loan problem. Fighting disparate impact litigation requires ‘studies‘ to show a disparate impact does not exist and that the testing is pertinent to the job:

Presumably, if the employer in Griggs had conducted a meaningful study and determined that the two ability tests were related to job performance, then the Court would have found there was no Title VII violation

Dampier continues:

Now, managers wouldn’t discriminate based on cultural factors, their personal familiarity with the candidates, and social class. They would use science to select only the ‘best’ candidate for the job, as judged by their objectively determinable intelligence quotient.

Companies want to make money. Training employees costs time, which is money. Smarter people learn faster, hence it costs less to train them. That is the simple motivation behind these tests.

Dampier continues:

Further, a society that selects its leaders based on how good they are at filling in bubbles will eventually become a society fascinated by bureaucratic bubble and spreadsheet filling incapable of dealing with the other important aspects of reality and rich details of the human experience. If it can’t be bubbled in on a sheet, the bubble-people want to make it stop existing.

Companies want competent employees that can learn quickly, are literate, and have a basic faculty of numbers and the ability to reason through abstract concepts, and these tests provide a quick and easy way of assessing such ability. There are other tests for things like personality, but even a semi-smart person can easily ‘game’ them by choosing answers that confer with a ‘good’ personality. And the correlation between personality and job performance is weak:

A 2010 review of the academic literature found correlations between personality and job success to fall in the .03 to .15 range, which the authors note is “close to zero.”[26] To put these correlations in perspective, personality tests used in employee selection account for approximately 5% of an employee’s job success while the other 95% of their performance is unaccounted for by personality.[27] Interestingly, the .15 correlation is almost identical to what was noted in the 1960’s, meaning there has been no measurable change in the data for the 50 years.

The correlation between between IQ and work performance is much higher, which can explain the motive for employers to administer such tests:

Depending type of job and how performance is measured GMA explains between 30% and 70% of the variation in people’s work performance (i.e. correlations of between .56 and .84), which is larger than any other known predictor.4 [“When performance is measured objectively using carefully constructed work sample tests (samples of actual job tasks), the correlation (validity) with intelligence measures is about .84 - 84% as large as the maximum possible value of 1.00, which represents perfect prediction. When performance is measured using ratings of job performance by supervisors, the correlation with intelligence measures is .66 for medium complexity jobs (over 60% of all jobs). For more complex jobs, this value is larger (e.g. .74 for professional and managerial jobs), and for simpler jobs this value is not as high (e.g. .56 for semi-skilled jobs). Another performance measure that is important is the amount learned in job training programs (Hunter et al., 2006). Regardless of job level, intelligence measures predict amount learned in training with validity of about .74 (Schmidt, Shaffer, and Oh, 2008).” From: Schmidt, Frank L, and John E Hunter. “Select on intelligence.” Handbook of principles of organizational behavior(2000): 3-14.]

Dampier continues:

One reason that they felt guilty about it was because the results of that system showed that ‘equality of opportunity’ was nonsense. There is no equality of opportunity, and there can be no equality of opportunity.

Of course, but the pursuit of equal outcomes is a lot more injurious than the pursuit of equal opportunity. The left is waging war on the meritocratic system, trying to create equal outcomes by attacking Silicon Valley hiring practices, the SAT, gifted education, and IQ tests.

Dampier continues:

Most people are born with limited opportunities owing to their station in life.

Agree. An important ‘station’ is IQ, but research also shows that the ‘birth lottery’ does not preclude the meritocracy. We have meritocracies stratified by IQ, with high-IQ people, for example, having high-paying meritocracies in Silicon Valley and at research universities and lower-IQ people having their own low-income meritocracies at Walmart or McDonald’s. We have ‘free will’ within our biological limits, as discussed in my article about Conservative Darwinism and free will.

It’s not that Henry Dampier doesn’t know what he’s taking about, but his view on IQ, as one commenter put it, may be too reductive.

Comments are closed.