April 8, 2011

Heckman on Terman's Termites

Steve Hsu has a fascinating post on a new paper by Nobel laureate economist/statistician James Heckman on the historic 1921 Terman Project tracking more than 600 California white males with 135+ IQs over seven decades.  You often hear about how this project shows that IQ doesn't matter because, say, none of Terman's Termites ever won the Nobel Prize.

Heckman writes:
This paper estimates the internal rate of return (IRR) to education for men and women of the Terman sample, a 70-year long prospective cohort study of high-ability individuals. The Terman data is unique in that it not only provides full working-life earnings histories of the participants, but it also includes detailed profiles of each subject, including IQ and measures of latent personality traits. Having information on latent personality traits is significant as it allows us to measure the importance of personality on educational attainment and lifetime earnings.

Heckman explains:
4.1 The Total Effect of Personality and IQ on Lifetime Earnings 
We begin by analyzing how personality and IQ influence lifetime earnings. We use the sum of each individual's earnings from age 18 to age 75. ... With this simple regression, Conscientiousness and Extraversion are positively associated with earnings, while Agreeableness and Openness are negatively associated with earnings (although Openness fails to be statistically significant in this very simple exercise). Our measure of Neuroticism does not have a clear association with earnings. It is remarkable that even in this very high-IQ sample, where the range of observed IQs is clearly restricted, IQ still has a positive and statistically highly significant association with lifetime earnings.

This sounds about right from my long observations of highly successful entrepreneurs in a cognitively demanding field (market research): they were Intelligent (probably in the 125-160 range), Extraverted (good salesmen), Conscientious (i.e., hard-working), not too Neurotic (if they worried more about what could go wrong, they wouldn't start companies), and not too Agreeable (they could kick ass when necessary, and were very competitive -- raced yachts, drove imported Porsches that took six months to make street legal in the U.S.). They were probably more Open than average, although that has to do with them being entrepreneurs.

Heckman goes on. 
Finally, note that even when controlling for rich background variable [such as education], IQ maintains a statistically significant effect on lifetime earnings. Even though the effect is slightly diminished from the uncontrolled association of the first column, it is still sizeable. Malcolm Gladwell claims rather generally in his book "Outliers" that for the Terman men, IQ did not matter once family background and other observable personal characteristics were taken into account. While we do not want to argue that IQ has a larger role for the difference between 50 and 100, for example, than for the difference between 150 and 200, we do want to point out that even at the high end of the ability distribution, IQ has meaningful consequences.

In other words, people with 200 IQs will, on average, make more money than people with 150 IQs, all else being equal.

For these very smart termites, getting more education increases lifetime income.
One caveat about causality is in order... We partially follow this approach by using early measures of Openness and Extraversion. However, the other personality traits are measured at a time where the men are already in their working lives. Thus, these measures are more relevant to the observed earnings, but at the same time we cannot exclude the possibility that, for example, a high score on Neuroticism is a result of one's position in the workforce. 

In other words, Terman asked personality questions back in 1922 of the youths that map well onto today's Big 5 personality traits of Openness and Extraversion, but the project didn't get around for a decade or two to asking questions that map to the other three Big personality components: Neuroticism, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness. So, maybe their personalities were affected by their intervening careers as well as their careers being affected by their personalities. For example, my dad spent 40 years as a stress engineer at Lockheed worrying about whether the wings would snap off planes. Did he get into that career to start with because he always was a worry wart, or is he a worry wart today because he spent 40 years worrying about how to keep planes from crashing? (I should ask my aunt.)

You can read the whole study here.

48 comments:

Anonymous said...

"You often hear about how this project shows that IQ doesn't matter because, say, none of Terman's Termites ever won the Nobel Prize."

There's a kind of mush all over the world.

Anonymous said...

Unless your dad stumbled into his occupation by accident or was forced into it, I would assume he was attracted to the types of problems to be solved by a stress engineer, so he was probably a worrywart from the beginning. But that's a good thing, for a stress engineer, and that's one of the reasons he was good at his job. I'd rather have a worrywart stress engineer testing the planes I fly than a laid-back, happy-go-lucky one, all else being equal. Things go so much better when personality as well as IQ are matched to professions.

Camlost said...

"You often hear about how this project shows that IQ doesn't matter because, say, none of Terman's Termites ever won the Nobel Prize."

And since Obama did win a Nobel Prize, his IQ clearly surpassed that of anyone in the study...

Nanonymous said...

The most notable thing about the Terman project is this: For all the time, expense and effort put into it, remarkably few new and surprising things were learned.

Svigor said...

not too Neurotic (if they worried more about what could go wrong, they wouldn't start companies)

Help me out here Steve. I was under the impression that Neuroticism was a measure of a person's tendency to experience negative emotions, not just fear. Do I have that wrong?

Svigor said...

And openness, you'd think that would correlate positively. My impression of openness is it encompasses courage, which you'd expect in successful entrepreneurs.

Anonymous said...

Off-topic [kinda], but Manny Ramirez just got busted:


Manny retires after notification of drug issue
By Bill Chastain / MLB.com
04/08/11 8:55 PM ET
mlb.mlb.com

CHICAGO -- Manny Ramirez has retired.

Major League Baseball first announced Ramirez's retirement in a statement Friday afternoon, saying that Ramirez had "an issue" under MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program and informed the league he would retire rather than "continue with the process under the program"...

The New York Times, citing two sources, reported Ramirez tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug during Spring Training.

If the issue involving Ramirez was a drug violation, he would be facing a suspension of 100 games.

Ramirez, with 555 career home runs, signed with the Rays this offseason and was off to a 1-for-17 start at the plate.

In 2009, Ramirez, 38, was suspended 50 games by MLB for violating the league's drug policy...

Melykin said...

When picking a spouse go for someone who has a high degree of agreeableness, even if they don't make as much money.

I've noticed that a lot of rich people tend to be selfish jerks.

Just saying.

Dextrology said...

As an undergraduate economics major who is taking labor economics, I would love to see more labor economists take into account psychological characteristics like IQ and the Big Five personality traits when making models. Too bad it's so goddamn controversial....

Dextrology said...

Hey Svigor, I think you're right about neuroticism. It's the general trait of being overly self-conscious and tending to worry too much, which can cause a wide of host of problems like depression, anxiety, etc...

Openness to experience, from what I understand, is kinda like liberals vs. conservatives. Or- Who's more willing to empathize with other people's views and try out new things?

RedSeaPedestrian said...

At the risk of indulging in rank speculation, I would guess that there are two different proximate causes for income differences based on IQ and the Big Five: firstly, success within a career, and secondly, career choice. I'd say the negative correlation of income with agreeableness and openness is probably because these are the traits that push high-ability people into relatively underpaid SWPL jobs like academia and charity - not because they are traits which lead to worse career performance per se.

In support of that idea, as Dextrology suggested, is the fairly established finding that openness is positively correlated with identification with the political left.

Anonymous said...

For a moment I read 'Herman's Hermits' - a popular British singing group of the 1960s ("No Milk Today...").

Matt said...

"not too Neurotic (if they worried more about what could go wrong, they wouldn't start companies)"

Well, neuroticism doesn't have much of an association (in that sample), which makes sense:

- If you're high neuroticism, then if you're the type of person to freak out about your status and future security or want material things and hedonic pleasures to "self medicate" for unhappiness, then you might want to accumulate to compensate. But on the other hand, if you're neurotic, you might equally as well not see the point of any kind of social striving to make things better and might worry too much.

- Likewise, if you have low neuroticism, you might not care about accumulation or status (why worry? be happy!), but OTOH, you might feel pretty rosy about things and be better at going out and getting stuff.

So there's no obvious compulsion in any one direction and the agreement that empirically this all works out at close to zero isn't at odds with this.

And overall no one is going to pay you more or less just because you happen to be depressive or negative or not provided your competence is the same.

(Of course, provided you are personally agreeable to them! It's a truth of this world that, in general, no one cares much about your internal feelings outside maybe your loved ones so long as you're nice to them and competent. It's only when neuroticism "causes" low agreeableness and low competence that people start wanting to fix it - those are the squeaks in the wheel that get the grease.)

Matt said...

And openness, you'd think that would correlate positively. My impression of openness is it encompasses courage, which you'd expect in successful entrepreneurs.

Openness has an openness to ideas and experiences facet, but I don't get the impression it has much to do with courage (I'd say high extraversion and low neuroticism and low agreeableness are where most things we call courage would be situated).

I'd guess the negative association of openness might be because openness causes people to enter into relatively low paying careers where they deal in ideas (writing and academia seem to offer poorer compensation relative to other professions with similar IQ requirements), or because they seek out experiences rather than material profit generally, or because there is a particular meme complex that discourages material accumulation and the things necessary to get it that high openness people are "vulnerable" to.

Matt said...

Openness to experience, from what I understand, is kinda like liberals vs. conservatives.

The picture I get from studies is conservatives tend to have high conscientiousness and earning power and grades relative to IQ and lower IQ, while liberals tend to have high openness and low earning power and grades relative to IQ and higher IQ.

More conscientious, more compentent relative to IQ (judged by wages and earning power and grades), less novelty seeking, less intelligent people vs less conscientious, less compentent relative to IQ (judged by wages and earning power and grades) or success oriented, more novelty seeking, more intelligent people.

I think liberals also tend to have less life satisfaction - which may be why they see themselves as having more of a "help" based orientation and boost large scale organisations dedicated to help (because, obviously, they want help and bloviating that "I want help! Gimme help! &c." looks weak and foolish [although social minorities get a bit of a pass], whereas posing like the cool guy who wants to help the needy looks strong and cool...).

dearieme said...

"While we do not want to argue that IQ has a larger role for the difference between 50 and 100, for example, than for the difference between 150 and 200": I'll bet a pound to a penny that he meant the opposite of what he wrote.

Ken S said...

Well, one thing has changed since this study, education isn't necessarily as strongly correlated with earnings anymore, when many PhDs make lukewarm salaries compared to those of plumbers, construction workers, mechanics, UPS workers, etc.

Nigel U said...

The big 5 personality traits (OCEAN) have scientific definitions of what they comprise and what their scores mean, which may differ from the layperson definitions of the traits, which can lead to some of the semantics confusion we are having here. For the study, they would have used the scientific definitions, which might lead to some differences in conclusions than taking layperson assumptions of the definitions.

MQ said...

Ummm, this study shows that the independent effect of IQ on earnings is REALLY SMALL. One thing that Steve and others on this site are constantly ignoring is that while the academic research does consistently show that while IQ is a determinant of lifetime success/earnings, it is a comparatively MINOR determinant. (The "Bell Curve" folks had to actively cook the books to conceal this, which would have shown up immediately if they had analyzed the data honestly). IQ matters, but it is just not all that important compared to education, social class, and even other personality traits.

In this study, the direct effect of IQ after controlling for education is a gain of $137,000 in total lifetime earnings (2008 dollars). This is tiny compared to education effects (well over a million dollars) and significantly smaller than the effects of other personality traits such as conscientiousness ($313,000 gain) and extraversion ($354,000 gain).

Adding in the indirect effects of IQ through the education channel (higher IQ leads to getting more education) gets you a slightly higher IQ effect -- a bit over $200,000 in lifetime earnings -- but it's still not that large and still less than half the impact of other personality traits.

Sorry, nerds. You rule in the internet comment sections, but in the real world the jocks and the privileged kids beat you yet again.

ricpic said...

More neurotics as a percentage of those over IQ 150 than of those IQ 125 - 135, I'd be willing to bet. Bright but not too bright is the best place to be for a happy life.

Svigor said...

Openness to experience, from what I understand, is kinda like liberals vs. conservatives. Or- Who's more willing to empathize with other people's views and try out new things?

(Ill-informed speculation follows) Maybe, but I've always been a very open kinda guy, still am, but experience/g trumps this stuff; I am not open to liberalism, equalitarianism, or globalism, any more than I am open to a bullet in the head.

And these days, being a reactionary is taboo, so who's to say that isn't the greater display of openness? I certainly find in my own experience that my high degree of openness led to my becoming an ethnopatriot.

But I do very much agree with you in the sense that progressivism, the tendency to seek out new ideas and modus operandi, is very much a hallmark of western civilization, and would seem to correspond to openness.

Svigor said...

Openness has an openness to ideas and experiences facet, but I don't get the impression it has much to do with courage (I'd say high extraversion and low neuroticism and low agreeableness are where most things we call courage would be situated).

I'm just going by what I read, but I'm not going to defend it because chances are it wasn't something "authoritative." <<---just pointing out it wasn't something I came up with on my own. But it does make sense - fear of the unknown is what holds the caveman back from the darkness.

Yeah, looking at Wiki, Openness is Openness to experience, an important qualifier; it isn't Agreeableness, it's the willingness to try out new things. Liberalism, equalitarianism, etc; these things are not at all new to me.

Svigor said...

Consider the stereotypical "stupid white person" from the black person's POV in horror films. He always goes to investigate, something blacks stereotypically find incomprehensible. More an absence of fear than an overcoming, so courage might not be the best word choice, but we accept the fuzziness of all these terms going in, I think.

Default User said...

On "openness"

I suspect that there is a difference between openness to experience (sensation seeking) and openness to ideas (curiosity). Going by the questions on one test I saw, they seemed to equate "openness" with liberal politics, featuring questions on things such as the death penalty, and (I think) taxes.

I cannot see how liberal politics equates to openness, especially in a climate where it is the default position. I would see one aspect of openness being the willingness to change your mind in the face of new evidence; how many liberals are resolute in their refusal to change their mind on topics dear to the hearts of many here?

The tests I have seen appear to equate openness with a cosmopolitan outlook and liberal politics over curiosity and willingness to embrace new ideas. I suppose it is part of the bias of social studies to pathologize conservatism while lionizing liberalism (openness is generally presumed to be good).

Perhaps conservatism attracts the conscientious and curious, while liberalism is home to the dissatisfied sensation seekers.

catperson said...

The picture I get from studies is conservatives tend to have high conscientiousness and earning power and grades relative to IQ and lower IQ, while liberals tend to have high openness and low earning power and grades relative to IQ and higher IQ.

In other words liberals are lazy. They don't want to work for their money, they want the government to take money from people who do, and redistribute it to them.

catperson said...

In other words, people with 200 IQs will, on average, make more money than people with 150 IQs, all else being equal.

So now what excuse are all the losers on the internet gona use to explained their failed lives? Before they would say: you only need an IQ above 120 to be successful; beyond 120 other factors are all that matters, and us geniuses who claim IQ's above 140 are just too smart to be successful. But Nams on the other hand; they're poor because they're stupid.

But as evidence continues to accumilate showing IQ has economic value at even the highest levels, they are starting to panic as their excuses run out.

europeasant said...

One thing for sure, termites are very persistent and agreeable.

Anonymous said...

We've conducted a massive sociological experiment in this country on the effect of IQ on performance.

And you'd be very hard pressed to argue that the country as a whole or individual businesses are better run under the high-IQ regime than they used to be when things were run by a semi-caste-like WASP ascendancy of middling intelligence. The new high-IQ managerial class have proven very effective at enriching themselves, but they impoverish everything else in the process.

I'd like to see Steve address this problem with his IQ fundamentalism.

Anonymous said...

note that even when controlling for rich background variables, IQ maintains a statistically significant effect on lifetime earnings.

If you ask the wrong questions you'll never get the right answers.

Anonymous said...

I'm skeptical of the commenter that said neuroticism leads to anxiety and depression, since I think I combine the traits of neuroticism with (light) hypomania (which gives me a kind of unnatural immunity against anxiety and sadness).

Also I think I there may be a distinction between low neurotics as a class being more successful because they take more risks, and the individual agent's probability of having a certain median networth over a lifetime. In other words, the individual high neurotic agent may be more rational than the individual low neurotic agent, even if the biggest success stories all come from the low neurotic class of agents.

Does this map at all with Heckman/Terman?

Hopefully Anonymous
http://www.hopeanon.typepad.com

Anonymous said...

This posting dove-tails with your recent postings on Obama's IQ.

Obama is a two sigma guy - about two standard deviations above the mean in IQ. So was Bush, Kerry, and Gore. In fact two sigma guys run the world. Most corporate CEOs are in this range.

Three sigma guys - like you yourself Steve - are too rare to have as much impact. Nobel Prize winners are three sigma guys on the average. That means that some are out at four or five sigmas but many are also no smarter than Obama. In his great book The Double Helix Watson worried that Pauling would beat them because he was obviously so much smarter than either he of Crick. But it didn't work out that way. They were smart enough it seems.

I got rejected when I applied for a market research job but I knew plenty of real brainiacs when I was in management consulting. My boss was super smart but also the most miserable and unhappy bastard you could ever imagine.

There are thousand of people walking the streets with a Nobel prize winner's IQ of 143 or above. Figure around 30,000 in America alone (99.9th percentile). There are, what, 10 Nobels given out each year? Do the math.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

Matt:

The picture I get from studies is conservatives tend to have high conscientiousness and earning power and grades relative to IQ and lower IQ, while liberals tend to have high openness and low earning power and grades relative to IQ and higher IQ.

It's like Steve's parable of the two engineers. The first has only a B.Sc. degree, heads off to find an undemanding job in a red state with low cost of living, builds up his family, and votes Republican. The second has an advanced degree, finds a very specialized job in a blue state coastal city, which pays more to offset the high cost-of-living, and ends up voting Democrat.

Anonymous said...

Beware that Terman's study involved a very different cohort from a very different time, with a very different (i.e. more positive) social attitude towards genius.

SouthernAnonyia said...

"And these days, being a reactionary is taboo, so who's to say that isn't the greater display of openness? I certainly find in my own experience that my high degree of openness led to my becoming an ethnopatriot."

Svigor, I've had the some of the same experiences as you. If anything, the people who aren't open to new ideas- at least in this era -are more likely to parrot whatever is deemed politically correct. This is doubly the case for young and/or educated people- even in the more conservative regions of the country. They are often the same kind of people you see slaving away over their flashcards to study, memorizing every little detail while simultaneously missing the big picture.

JHB said...

Beware that Terman's study involved a very different cohort from a very different time, with a very different (i.e. more positive) social attitude towards genius.

Absolutely, but that's only half of the story. Terman's study group all entered the job market, and for the most part concluded their careers, before Griggs v. Duke Power. I haven't seen a similar study done on the latter Baby Boom cohort who entered a job market where measuring ability by tests had become illegal and where the group who had scored well on such tests, white males, were overwhelmingly represented in high-earning fields and jobs. I haven't seen such a study for Gen X or Gen Y, either. I suspect that the results would be very different, particularly for the latter half of the Baby Boomers. Without the ability to show through test scores that they'll do a better job, smart people without connections simply don't have access to jobs where their intelligence is a performance multiplier.

Nanonymous said...

Watson worried that Pauling would beat them because he was obviously so much smarter than either he of Crick.

In retrospect though, Crick appears to have been smarter than both Watson and Pauling.

Anonymous said...

MQ said:

In this study, the direct effect of IQ after controlling for education is a gain of $137,000 in total lifetime earnings (2008 dollars). This is tiny compared to education effects (well over a million dollars) and significantly smaller than the effects of other personality traits such as conscientiousness ($313,000 gain) and extraversion ($354,000 gain).


Of course, education is correlated with IQ ... trying getting a real education with an IQ of say, 90. Then, try getting a strongly technical education with an IQ of 110, or getting into a top five law firm with that IQ (and with out affirmative action).

Anonymous said...

@MQ and others:

135 on the Stanford Binet (Terman cutoff) is an IQ of about 140 on a modern scale using a 15 point SD. So all the termites were very smart.

There is a significant (in the statistical sense) variation in lifetime income even among this group in which IQ varied from just below +3 SD to about +5 SD. The study only addresses income variation *within* this group.

It does *not* address how much more the Terman group, on average, earned compared to the average American. What did the average person growing up in the Great Depression earn over their lifetime (in 2008 dollars)? I'd guess perhaps $1 million, compared to the $2-3 million earned by the average Termite. The Termites were on average very successful, career wise.

Anonymous said...

>In retrospect though, Crick appears to have been smarter than both Watson and Pauling.<

Care to justify this comment? Perhaps after looking at Pauling's textbook on quantum mechanics and at Crick's mediocre career as a physicist before switching to biology?

Nanonymous said...

Care to justify this comment? Perhaps after looking at Pauling's textbook on quantum mechanics and at Crick's mediocre career as a physicist before switching to biology?

Sure. Crick's career as a physicist and Pauling's textbook are pretty irrelevant though. Instead, look at what really matters:

Pauling's main contributions were 1) theory of molecular bond and 2) secondary structure of proteins. Very important, no doubt, and I didn't mean to suggest that Pauling was not a brilliant guy. He was. But he was also famous for getting DNA wrong and for pushing "orthomolecular pseudo-science. Or yes, and for being an ardent commie (not a good sign considering the facts that were staring at him and that he kept ignoring).

Now let's look at Crick: other than 1) his DNA work most know him for, he's also responsible for:
2) First regular tertiary protein structure ("coiled coils" - using, BTW, the same data as were available to Pauling).
3) Figuring out the nature of genetic code (Crick-Brenner experiment).
4) Getting right the basic mechanism of information flow from DNA to protein and prediction of both mRNA and tRNA.

Politically, Crick was also smart enough to lean conservative. (And he clearly got that HBD thing quite right). So the sum of real life evidence (contributions and convictions) points to Crick being smarter than Pauling after all.

Watson... Nah. In comparison to Pauling and Crick, Watson is a classic one trick pony. A smart guy who lucked out once.

Anonymous said...

" but in the real world the jocks and the privileged kids beat you yet again.'

Very few jocks earn any many as jocks. The vast majority of college jocks don't even play in the pros.

Anonymous said...

Openness to experience implies someone that is a sensation seeker. That type of person is less likely to be a money-oriented, workaholic and more likely to change careers a lot, trying to find something they enjoy.

I'm surprised agreeableness is negatively correlated. I would guess that agreeable people might be less likely to offer new ideas in group settings and less aggressive in sales, as agreeable people want to just get along. I think disagreeability is good to the extent that it makes you willing to be bold and willing to persusade others, but agreeability is still preferrrable in social situations. My bosses were disagreeable in that they didn't compromise on their vision, but pleasant and not argumentatitive in social situations.

Conscientious - No surprise. Hardworking, diligent, organized people succeed.

Extraversion - Better at building relationships with clients and coworkers. Better at networking.

Neurotic - Lots of high achievers are neurotic, with a manic desire to achieve and dominate. Normal people don't work 70 hours a week to climb to the top of Goldman Sachs. However, neurotics can sometimes be a little crazy, which makes it difficult for them to live a normal life. Lots of unsuccessful people are neurotic, but as are lots of Tiger immigrants. Neuroses is probably okay, as long as it's channeled toward work/money/career/faily and controlled otherwise.

I believe there's an IQ floor for most lucrative careers. Once you pass the floor, you're basically smart enough to succeed. Additional IQ points tend to enable even more success, but you have diminishing returns. According to Half Sigma's analysis of GSS survey data, the correlation between IQ and income has fallen in recent years. Now it appears that once you pass an IQ threshold, income stays the same or even falls. He found that this marks a reversal from previous decades' data sets, and he believes the rise of credentialism is responsible.

From my personal experience, it seems like really smart kids with no degree have a hard time climbing the career ladder or getting clients. The importance of educational credentials and academic pedigree (ie being Harvardized in your habits and manners) is huge. In Terman's time, I think people were more likely to give a smart uneducated kid a chance to prove himself. Not anymore.

Anonymous said...

@Nanonymous

I agree with you about Watson.

I don't think intelligence and achievement can be so directly related. A might be smarter than B even though B accomplishes or contributes more than A.

Also, I doubt political orientation can be used to judge relative intelligence. Is Rush Limbaugh smarter than Ed Witten just because the latter votes democratic?

TH said...

There is a significant (in the statistical sense) variation in lifetime income even among this group in which IQ varied from just below +3 SD to about +5 SD. The study only addresses income variation *within* this group.

Yes. I don't understand how anyone could draw from this study the conclusion that IQ does not matter.

I'd bet that none of the other variables in the study would correlate with anything if the analysis was restricted to those who are above the 99th percentile for those variables.

Anonymous said...

From my personal experience, it seems like really smart kids with no degree have a hard time climbing the career ladder or getting clients. The importance of educational credentials and academic pedigree (ie being Harvardized in your habits and manners) is huge. In Terman's time, I think people were more likely to give a smart uneducated kid a chance to prove himself. Not anymore.

That is very much true. The modern world is so credentialled and over-skilled (the opposite of de-skilled), and regimented formal education is the new secular religion.

Anonymous said...

Steve said:
"This sounds about right from my long observations of highly successful entrepreneurs in a cognitively demanding field (market research): they were Intelligent (probably in the 125-160 range), Extraverted (good salesmen), Conscientious (i.e., hard-working), not too Neurotic (if they worried more about what could go wrong, they wouldn't start companies), and not too Agreeable (they could kick ass when necessary, and were very competitive -- raced yachts, drove imported Porsches that took six months to make street legal in the U.S.). They were probably more Open than average, although that has to do with them being entrepreneurs."

One observation. Driving high performance cars fast may or may not be a trait of evolutionary fitness; a high risk event with little in the way of payoff from a pure Darwinist utility perspective; what's the payoff if you plough your Porsche into the guardrail on Lake Shore Drive at 100 mph? You're extroverted, high IQ, not too agreeable, not too neurotic, successful, but dead. Not much chance of passing on those great genes through your mate. On the other hand, if you simply drive the fast car at the speed limit (not very risky - goes against type) as a demonstration of your fitness potential (Peacock feathers, Spartan War Games) to prospective mates, then a good net investment. Guess its a measured study of the trade-offs between a) premature death, or b) landing the most fit mate to have your offspring.

Some questions, Steve: how many (what percentage) of those entrepreneurs you observed went on to be wildly successful (really rich, say in the top 10% of earners)? How many were very successful (earned top 25%)? And how many earned only average or completely bombed in their ventures?

Thomas Windram said...

"One observation. Driving high performance cars fast may or may not be a trait of evolutionary fitness; a high risk event with little in the way of payoff from a pure Darwinist utility perspective; what's the payoff if you plough your Porsche into the guardrail on Lake Shore Drive at 100 mph? You're extroverted, high IQ, not too agreeable, not too neurotic, successful, but dead. Not much chance of passing on those great genes through your mate. On the other hand, if you simply drive the fast car at the speed limit (not very risky - goes against type) as a demonstration of your fitness potential (Peacock feathers, Spartan War Games) to prospective mates, then a good net investment. Guess its a measured study of the trade-offs between a) premature death, or b) landing the most fit mate to have your offspring."

He didn't say they raced them, he said they had them. Also please don't bring up specific examples if you don't mean to convey any more information with them than was provided at the general categorical level - demonstration of potential fitness (Peacock feathers, Spartan War Games)is quite a semantic mess. Both examples do this in very specific ways (as I'm sure you know) and neither directly relates to your example. For instance if someone approached me with a matrix and wished to interpret it, and rather than be kind and noting the exact test to run I glibly reply "You use mathematics to derive the result ala Markov Chains and Volumetric integration", I have hindered more than helped. Even though the examples I gave correspond to the general category 'mathematics', they fail to do anything further and, due to their inclusion, might make my poor friend go out and spend an unnecessary week learning them. Of course I knew that you were using them emptily, it's just annoying and I want you to stop in future. Anyway, back to the question at hand - IQ is quite strongly correlated with health promoting behaviours as well as age of death (after SES and aforementioned behavioural components have been corrected for) - so your question about racing said cars clearly doesn't apply to any general sample. I just fail to see why you invoked (evoked and provoked, amirite?) the framework of evolutionary biology at all especially as you then failed to ask any meaningful questions with it, or even respond to the previous comments. Had you just recently watched a documentary on how to apply said rhetoric to motor-enthusiasts?
Anyway, I don't expect a reply as this post is three years old - I was just avoiding my work. I'll get back to that now.

Anonymous said...

"One observation. Driving high performance cars fast may or may not be a trait of evolutionary fitness; a high risk event with little in the way of payoff from a pure Darwinist utility perspective; what's the payoff if you plough your Porsche into the guardrail on Lake Shore Drive at 100 mph? You're extroverted, high IQ, not too agreeable, not too neurotic, successful, but dead. Not much chance of passing on those great genes through your mate. On the other hand, if you simply drive the fast car at the speed limit (not very risky - goes against type) as a demonstration of your fitness potential (Peacock feathers, Spartan War Games) to prospective mates, then a good net investment. Guess its a measured study of the trade-offs between a) premature death, or b) landing the most fit mate to have your offspring."

He didn't say they raced them, he said they had them. Also please don't bring up specific examples if you don't mean to convey any more information with them than was provided at the general categorical level - demonstration of potential fitness (Peacock feathers, Spartan War Games)is quite a semantic mess. Both examples do this in very specific ways (as I'm sure you know) and neither directly relates to your example. For instance if someone approached me with a matrix and wished to interpret it, and rather than be kind and noting the exact test to run I glibly reply "You use mathematics to derive the result ala Markov Chains and Volumetric integration", I have hindered more than helped. Even though the examples I gave correspond to the general category 'mathematics', they fail to do anything further and, due to their inclusion, might make my poor friend go out and spend an unnecessary week learning them. Of course I knew that you were using them emptily, it's just annoying and I want you to stop in future. Anyway, back to the question at hand - IQ is quite strongly correlated with health promoting behaviours as well as age of death (after SES and aforementioned behavioural components have been corrected for) - so your question about racing said cars clearly doesn't apply to any general sample. I just fail to see why you invoked (evoked and provoked, amirite?) the framework of evolutionary biology at all especially as you then failed to ask any meaningful questions with it, or even respond to the previous comments. Had you just recently watched a documentary on how to apply said rhetoric to motor-enthusiasts?
Anyway, I don't expect a reply as this post is three years old - I was just avoiding my work. I'll get back to that now.