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October 27, 2011
What Trumps Intelligence When Predicting Success?

IQ only accounts for about 20% of a persons success. The balance - by far the majority of a person's success is attributable to social and emotional intelligence and something far more powerful.

When it comes to predicting success, especially in the academic realm, hope does the best job.

In previous studies, both teachers and researchers have suggested that a number of factors including poor academic skills, difficulties following directions and a lack of social skills are an impediment to school readiness and later success. Because of this, some experts have suggested that early childhood education should focus on building behavioral, social and emotional skills just as much as building academic skills.

However, hope is often overlooked. Trumping general intelligence, previous academic achievement and personality, hope "uniquely predicts objective academic achievement," shows a three-year longitudinal study out of the University of Manchester.

Fear of failure breeds inaction and hopelessness. It's a vicious cycle. If you lack hope, you will fear failure. If you fear failure, you will never act. If you never act, you will never succeed. And if you never succeed, you will never develop a positive mindet and hope for the best.

The study followed 129 students as they entered university, measuring their pre-university grades and their final degree marks. Researchers tracked specific traits over the three-year term: trait hope -- an individual's general or characteristic level of hope -- general intelligence, the five-factor model of personality, divergent thinking, and objective measures of their academic performance.

This research suggests a reevaluation of current educational practices are in order to effectuate change and enhance the lives of students.

This study isn't the first to make the hope-achievement connection.

A similar study out of Indianapolis, titled "Hope, but not optimism, predicts academic performance of law students beyond previous academic achievement" followed "initial levels of hope and optimism with subsequent academic performance and life satisfaction among first-year law students". These two discovered that hope, rather than optimism, predicted academic performance, while both hope and optimism contributed to life satisfaction.

"Chris[topher] Reeve wisely parsed the difference between optimism and hope. Unlike optimism, he said, 'Hope is the product of knowledge and the projection of where the knowledge can take us,'" Michael J. Fox wrote in his memoir, "Always Looking Up."

When it comes to academic success, that "product of knowledge" seems to play a crucial role.


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