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People who are arrogant get better grades, US personality researchers claim

But researchers find that intellectually arrogant people are rated lower for leadership and agreeableness by others

Jess Staufenberg
Wednesday 07 October 2015 13:37 BST
Knowing that you are intellectually arrogant actually correlates with higher grades in exams and coursework
Knowing that you are intellectually arrogant actually correlates with higher grades in exams and coursework (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

If you arrogantly think you are pretty clever, it turns out you might just be right.

Research by personality experts has suggested that admitting you are intellectually arrogant goes hand-in-hand with good academic achievement - suggesting that being aware of your own knowledge helps you perform well in coursework and exams.

But those who score themselves high on intellectual arroagance are also seen as less good team players by their peers.

The researchers at Baylor and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor had initially hypothesised that people who scored high on "intellectual humility" would score high on grades - before the results proved them wrong.

"One possibility is that people who view themselves as intellectually arrogant know what they know and that translates to increases in academic performance," said researcher Wade Rowatt, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Baylor, in a press release.

The study involved 103 undergraduates who rated themselves and each other on a variety of characteristics after doing individual and group tasks.

How people saw themselves rarely correlated with how others viewed them, the research found. People generally found others to be intellectually arrogant if they also saw them as high in dominance, extroverted and wanting to be the centre of attention. They rated them arrogant if they "saw their ideas as superior to others" and were "close-minded".

People who were seen as "humble", meanwhile, scored higher for virtues such as competence, agreeableness and leadership.

The researchers added that groups weren't quick at reaching a consensus about different members of the group, but could with time. It was particularly difficult to draw conclusions about whether someone was intellectually humble - whereas it was easier to conclude that they were arrogant, the scientists said.

"If people are forming opinions about extraversion and someone talks a lot, it's easy to draw consensus about that person," said lead author Benjamin Meagher, now a visiting assistant professor at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

"But it's more challenging for groups to recognise what behavior reveals another person's humility, as opposed to simply being shy or unsure."

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