Econstudentlog

Why g matters

The paper is here, here are some excerpts:

“personnel psychologists no longer dispute the conclusion that g helps to predict performance in most if not all jobs (Hartigan & Wigdor, 1989). Rather, their disputes concern how large the predictive validities are, often in the context of deciding the appropriate composition of a personnel selection battery. Estimates of the average validity of g across all jobs in the economy generally range between .3 and .5 (on a scale from 0 to 1.O), depending on how validities are corrected for unreliability in the criterion and restriction in range on the predictor (Hartigan & Wigdor, 1989).
These estimates are based primarily on studies that used supervisor ratings of job performance. Average validities are yet higher when performance is measured objectively.

Validities vary widely across different kinds of jobs, from a low of about .2 to a high of .8.” […] An especially important observation is that predictive validities vary systematically according to the overall complexity of the work involved.”

[…]

g can be said to be the most powerful single predictor of overall job performance. First, no other measured trait, except perhaps conscientiousness (Landy et al., 1994, pp. 271, 273), has such general utility across the sweep of jobs in the U.S. economy. More specific personality traits and aptitudes, such as extraversion or spatial aptitude, sometimes seem essential above and beyond g, but across a more limited range of jobs (e.g., Bat-rick & Mount, 1991; Gottfredson, 1986a).
Second, no other single predictor measured to date (specific aptitude, personality, education, experience) seems to have such consistently high predictive validities for job performance. The clearest exceptions to the predictive superiority of g prove its relative importance.”

[…]

“there are striking differences in the IQ ranges from which occupations tend to draw the bulk of their workers. More specifically, there appear to be minimum IQ thresholds that rise steadily with job level. The median of an applicant pool is often recommended as a minimum passing score for further consideration of applicants to that job (Wonderlic Personnel Test, 1992, p. 14), so it can be viewed as a threshold for applicant competitiveness. By this measure, one needs an IQ of about 120 (the 91st percentile of the general population) to be competitive for the highest level jobs in Figure 1 (research analyst and advertising manager). The IQ levels required for competitiveness drop with job level: for example, IQ 112 (81st percentile of the general adult population) for accountant and teacher; IQ 100 (50th percentile) for cashier, meter reader, and teller; IQ 90 (25th percentile) for custodian and material handler. The medians of the highest and lowest of these applicant IQ distributions (IQ 120 vs. 90) differ by 2 SD, which means these distributions do not overlap much.
If the 25th WPT percentile of applicants is used to estimate the minimum threshold for employability in an occupation, it suggests that virtually all occupations accommodate individuals down to IQ 110, but virtually none routinely accommodates individuals below IQ 80 (WPT 10). Employment options drop dramatically with IQ-from virtually unlimited above IQ 120 to scant below IQ 80. Such options are virtually nonexistent today (except in sheltered settings) for individuals below IQ 70 to 75, the usual threshold for borderline mental retardation.
Lest IQ 80 seem an unreasonably high (i.e., exclusionary) threshold in hiring, it should be noted that the military is prohibited by law (except under a declaration of war) from enlisting recruits below that level (the 10th percentile). That law was enacted because of the extraordinarily high training costs and high rates of failure among such men during the mobilization of forces in World War II (Laurence & Ramsberger, 1991; Sticht et al., 1987; U.S. Department of the Army, 1965).”

[…]

why does g have such pervasive practical utility? For example, why is a higher level of g a substantial advantage in carpentry, managing people, and navigating vehicles of all kinds? And, very importantly, why do those advantages vary in the ways they do? Why is g more helpful in repairing trucks than in driving them for a living? Or more for doing well in school than staying out of trouble? For example, IQ correlates .5 to .7 with academic achievement (Jensen, 1980, p. 319), but only -.25 with delinquency (Gordon, 1986). What explains this pattern of results?
Also, can we presume that similar activities in other venues might be similarly affected by intelligence? For example, if differences in intelligence change the odds of effectively managing and motivating people on the job, do they also change the odds of successfully dealing with one’s own children? If so, why, and how much?
The heart of the argument I develop here is this: For practical purposes, g is the ability to deal with cognitive complexity – in particular, with complex information processing. All tasks in life involve some complexity, that is, some information processing. Life tasks, like job duties, vary greatly in their complexity (g loadedness). This means that the advantages of higher g are large in some situations and small in others, but probably never zero.”

[…]

“variance in performance levels among workers rises with job complexity. Hunter et al. (1990) found that the ratios of SD in performance to mean performance were 19%, 32%, and 48%, respectively, in low-, medium-, and high-complexity civilian jobs. This means that the same differences in g lead to bigger differences in performance in more complex jobs, because g variance counts more heavily in those jobs.”

[…]

“Perhaps the most important conclusion to be drawn from these people-related ratings, however, is that dealing with people is always fairly complex. This should not be surprising, because other individuals are among the most complex, novel, changing, active, demanding, and unpredictable objects in our environments, Living and working with others is a complicated business.”

[…]

Education, training, experience, and the job knowledge to which they lead are all important aids in performing jobs well. This fact is aptly captured by discussions of the “practical intelligence” and “tacit knowledge” that is gained through experience (Jensen, 1993; Schmidt & Hunter, 1993; Sternberg & Wagner, 1993; Sternberg, Wagner, Williams, & Horvath, 1995). Raw intelligence is not enough, as the path analyses of intelligence, knowledge, and performance discussed earlier suggest. However, knowledge is merely a tool that people apply with different degrees of competence to an unending array of new situations – some potentially critical (engine failure in flight, an injured or trapped child, plunging sales, corporate mergers) and others less so (novel questions or complaints from customers, comparison shopping, applying and interviewing for jobs, setting behavioral standards for one’s adolescent children). As discussed earlier, the facility with which individuals accumulate these tools (trainability) and the competence with which they apply them (task proficiency) often depend heavily on g, especially in the absence of close supervision.

Complex Job Duties Have Everyday Analogs
Many of the duties that correlate highly with overall job complexity suffuse our lives: advising, planning, negotiating, persuading, supervising others, to name just a few. The job analysis tools used to analyze paid work could readily be adapted to analyze the nature of unpaid roles in life, such as parenting. One might ponder, for example, whether the most important elements of good parenting involve the duties associated with low complexity work such as driver, custodian, nurse’s aide, messenger, and food service worker – or whether they are more like the duties of moderate to high complexity jobs such as teacher, counselor, dispatcher, police officer, and accountant.”

[…]

Table 8 shows the percentages of White adults who are proficient at each of the five levels on the three NALS scales. Generally about 4% reach the highest level. Level 5 (376-500) signals an 80% probability, for example, of being able to summarize two ways that lawyers challenge prospective jurors (based on a passage discussing such practices) and to use a calculator to determine the total cost of carpet to cover a room (see Figure 2). Roughly another 20% of White adults reach Level 4 (326-375), where individuals can perform such tasks as restating an argument made in a lengthy news article and calculating the money needed to raise a child based on information stated in a news article.
A total of about one third of White adults reach Level 3 (276-325), but no higher, which includes capabilities for writing a brief letter explaining an error in a credit card bill and using a flight schedule to plan travel arrangements. Level 2 proficiency (226-275) includes locating an intersection on a street map, entering background information on an application for a social security card, and determining the price difference between two show tickets. This level is reached but not exceeded by about 25% of Whites. Finally, one out of seven White adults functions routinely no higher than Level 1 (less than 225), which is limited to 80% proficiency in skills like locating an expiration date on a driver’s license and totaling a bank deposit. Individuals at Level 1 or 2 “are not likely to be able to perform the range of complex literacy tasks that the National Education Goals Panel considers important for competing successfully in a global economy and exercising fully the rights and responsibilities of citizenship” (Baldwin et al., 1995, p. 16).”

The paper has much more.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | IQ, Studies | Leave a comment