School and Work Call on Same Mental Skills

If you do well in school, your career prospects look bright, study says

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MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- If you're successful in school, there's a good chance that pattern will repeat itself in the work world.

An analysis of 127 studies involving 20,352 people concluded that the intelligence needed to make it in the workplace is similar to the intelligence necessary for academic achievement.

The findings, published in the January issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, contradict the popular idea that there's a great difference between the general cognitive ability required to excel in the classroom and those needed to succeed on the job.

General cognitive ability (g), a concept introduced nearly a century ago, is believed to predict a broad range of a person's behaviors and performances. This includes academic success, job performance, creativity and health-related behaviors.

However, not all experts accept this idea. They believe there's a difference in the abilities needed to achieve success in school and abilities required to make it in the workplace.

In this study, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Minnesota say their analysis offers evidence that g is related to a person's success in many areas, including work and school.

"Although the academic setting places a greater emphasis on the acquisition of knowledge, performance in both academic and work settings is predicted by g," the researchers write.

"Both situations involve learning and contain complex or practical tasks, and performance in both situations is partially determined by previously acquired levels of knowledge and skill. General cognitive ability is related to all three of these, which is why it should come as no surprise that the same cognitive ability test is a valid predictor of performance in both settings," the authors write.

More information

Here's where you can find more on g.

SOURCE: American Psychological Association, news release, Jan. 11, 2004

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