Intelligence & Personality Traits – How Do They Relate?

How does intelligence connect to personality, is the theory of multiple intelligence’s still valid, and what impact on IQ can personality have? Plus is it possible to increase your intelligence or IQ score? The answer is actually both yes and no, it’s not quite that simple, I will attempt to explain why there is a conflicting answer to this question.


Intelligence is broken down into two main components. These are crystallized and fluid intelligence. Crystallized intelligence is in part summed up by our level of knowledge, and to comprehend, which can be improved by education, and therefore it can increase as we get older. Fluid intelligence is connected to problem solving, performing complex tasks and thinking abstractly. It’s also linked to how quickly someone can learn something, like a skill or ability.

Intelligence is largely believed to be genetic, and in part inherited. Intelligent parents will likely have intelligent children, however there is often a great amount of genetic variability, which means inherited genetics is only a predictor, not an absolute certainty. You also have to factor in the level or quality of the education someone receives.

Personality Traits & Intelligence

The big five traits or five factor model shows one main personality trait that correlates with intelligence or IQ, that personality trait is Openness. Trait openness splits into two main areas, interest in ideas, and interest in aesthetics. Those who tilt more to an interest in aesthetics tend to be more creative and better at thinking abstractly, this connects to fluid intelligence. Those who tilt more to an interest in ideas tend to be better at comprehension, which links to crystallized intelligence.

Multiple Intelligence’s

Social intelligence was once believed to be a type of intelligence. Social intelligence would include being cooperative, saying the right thing, being socially fluent and generally getting on well with others. However these are now mostly considered to be connected to personality traits, not intelligence. Traits agreeableness and extroversion would cover those examples.

Emotional intelligence, so emotional stability, anxiety and stress tolerance would come under this. However modern developments in personality psychology suggest these are connected to trait neuroticism, not intelligence.

Moral intelligence, recent research and developments show that there is no correlation between morality and intelligence. Morality comes under the personality trait agreeableness.

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligence’s

  • Linguistic Intelligence
  • Logical/Mathematical Intelligence
  • Spacial Intelligence
  • Kinesthetic Intelligence
  • Musical Intelligence
  • Interpersonal Intelligence
  • Intrapersonal Intelligence
  • Naturalist Intelligence

All of these intelligence’s except for kinesthetic can be explained by a combination of personality traits and crystallized and/or fluid intelligence.

Trait Neuroticism & Under Performing

Being high in trait neuroticism can greatly affect a person’s cognitive performance when under pressure. This is especially true when it comes to exams, tests, including IQ test, and can greatly hinder learning in certain conditions or environments. Trait neuroticism is connected to anxiety, stress, depression, self-consciousness, less confidence and general negative emotions, and can also cause emotional imbalances, and lead to problems with regulating emotions.

Education is not the remembering of facts. Albert Einstein quote.


Personality psychology now accounts for and has replaced the theory of multiple intelligence’s. When you account for personality, it leaves only crystallized and fluid intelligence.

Research suggests that crystallized intelligence can be improved with education. However fluid intelligence is more genetic and static, and research on the subject points to the conclusion that it cannot be increased, not measurably anyway. Fluid intelligence can also decline with age.