Intelligent People Are Nicer and More Cooperative

Three of them matter for us: think of them as the Three P’s of the RPD. Players should

  1. Be patient: Focus on the long-term benefits of finding a way to cooperate—don’t just focus on the short-run pleasures, whether it’s the pleasure of exploitation or the pleasure of punishment. Axelrod calls this “extending the shadow of the future.”
  2. Be pleasant: Start off nice—make sure those bared teeth are part of a smile. And later in the game, take the ABBA approach, and take a chance on cooperating every now and then, even when things have gone south for a while.
  3. Be perceptive: Figure out what game you’re playing—know the rules, and know the benefits and costs of cooperation.

I claim that people with higher IQs will be better at all three.

From Economist Says Higher-IQ People are Nicer and More Cooperative.

This is the most thought-provoking articles I’ve read in years, and I read for at least a few hours every day. It is well worth your time to check out the author’s full argument.

No, not every nice person I’ve met has been intelligent, and not every intelligent person has been nice. Every rule has exceptions.

When I think of all of the people I’ve known, though, I can see how these traits could be connected. Getting along well with others requires many skills that can’t be easily taught. You should know how to make small talk, solve a conflict, keep a conversation going, and make sure everyone is included.

You also have to memorize all kinds of small details about what others like, what interests them, and what topics are perfectly okay to bring up with Sonja but should be avoided completely when you’re talking to Pete.

I’ve known people who are far better at these things than I could ever hope to be. There have been other people I’ve known who push everyone’s buttons because they’re either oblivious of the rules or don’t seem to care at all about following them. (It’s never been clear to me which one of these is more true for them. Maybe it’s both).

Anecdotes aren’t date, of course, but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this topic. What patterns have you noticed in your social circles?

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