[Angela Lee Duckworth from the University of Pennsylvania] looked at the scores of 508 young boys who had taken an IQ test in 1987. The boys were part of the Pittsburgh Youth Study, and researchers kept in touch with them into adulthood, for at least 12 years after the original test. As usual, their scores predicted their eventual academic performance, the number of years they spent in education, their odds of being employed as adults, and their number of criminal convictions.
But there was more. The original tests were all delivered verbally and the sessions were filmed. Duckworth recruited three independent researchers to review the footage for signs of low motivation, such as refusing to take part, or wanting the session to end. The team found that boys with lower IQ scores were also less motivated when they took the test, and their degree of motivation also predicted the course of their lives. Accounting for motivation weakened the link between IQ and life-success, especially for employment and criminal convictions. …
If you think it’s obvious that motivation would confound the results of IQ tests, then Robert Stenberg, who studies intelligence at Oklahoma State University, agrees with you. “D’uh!”, he says. Sternberg thinks that Duckworth has produced a “great research study” but adds, “To almost anyone except some subset of psychologists who study IQ testing, it will come as little surprise that motivation is an extremely powerful determinant of performance in school and in life. Most employers, for example, are at least as eager to know about job applicants’ motivation as they are to know about their cognitive skills. Teachers also know that ability without high motivation typically results in little success in a challenging curriculum.”
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
From Not Exactly Rocket Science | Discover Magazine