Research: Intelligence an "Openness to Experience"

New research demonstrates that one of the key attributes of intelligence is "an openness to experience," one of the so-called Big Five personality traits, the others being conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Scott Barry Kaufman, who has documented his on unorthodox learning style and is skeptical about the ways in which intelligence has been traditionally assessed in his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, is also well placed as a cognitive psychologist to offer new ways to think about the subject.

In his article at Scientific American, he suggests that intelligence can be viewed as an aspect of personality rather than a wholly separate domain of human functioning, and reviews the data from a group of individuals who took both personality and intelligence tests. Kaufman:

Given this data, where does IQ fit into the personality puzzle? While this is just a single data set, it is consistent with other studies suggesting that the most relevant personality domain is openness to experience, particularly the dimensions that reflect the ability and drive for conscious exploration of inner mental experience.

Well, far be it from the IdeaFestival to question the benefits of new experiences.

Because of his interest in cognitive working and creative expression, Kaufman's linking of intelligence to "openness to experience" rather than "extroversion," for example, suggests one explanation for creative achievement across the divide between art and science. Individuals who go on to make novel contributions in both domains must first consider the stimuli before engaging it.

I'd be very interested in hearing Kaufman's views of to what extent this openness can be acquired.

Stay curious.

Please remember, discounted Early Bird Festival Passes are on sale now through April 27 only!


Image of Daniel Roth: Geoff Oliver Bugbee

"Goldilocks" Earth-Sized ExoPlanet Found

This is remarkable. Exoplanet hunters appear to have found the closest Earth analog yet, a slightly larger and similarly rocky version of our world 490 light years away orbiting its sun at a range that makes it possible for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface.

'This is the first definitive Earth-sized planet found in the habitable zone around another star,' Elisa Quintana, of the SETI Institute and NASA's Ames Research Center and the lead author of a new study detailing the findings, said in a statement.

Other planets of various sizes have been found in the habitable zones of their stars. However, Kepler-186f is the first alien planet this close to Earth in size found orbiting in that potentially life-supporting area of an extrasolar system, according to exoplanet scientists.

Before losing its ability hold a steady gaze on a field of hundreds of thousands of stars while looking for the telltale dips in light that would indicate that a body is passing regularly in front of the star, Kepler logged tens of thousands of potential planetary candidates that scientists will be analyzing for years to come. Kepler-186f is the most promising exoplanet yet in the search for life beyond our own solar system.

In what is now looking like incredible timing, Lee Billings, the author of a book about the search for life beyond our home world, "Five Billion Years of Solitude," will speak at IdeaFestival 2014. Even better: the lowest priced Festival Passes of the year are now on sale, but only through April 27! You don't want to miss Lee and other announced speakers like Debbie Millman, Claudia Hammond, Jason Felts and Steve Pemberton.

Many more speakers will be announced very soon!

Stay curious.


Credit: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-CalTech

Michael Wolff on Design: Empathy is Your Superpower

In this video from 99U, designer Michael Wolff talks about how "past experience" is not his friend, quotes Maya Angelou about what makes for lasting impressions, and dishes on about how "design can be an agreement system among designers."

In my judgement, the last point was much on the mind of architect Lance Hosey last September when he spoke at the IdeaFestival.

Because designers tend to know a "great deal about very little and very little about a great deal," Wolff believes empathy - the capacity to feel something toward the object of one's thinking - is the key to great design. I was particularly interested in his comments about corporate and business expression. In what struck me as honest bewilderment, he says "he's never understood any boardroom he's ever been in." And written corporate communication isn't meant, in his view, to be expressive or to be read.

"It's meant to be approved." That's hardly the way to connect emotionally with buyers.

Give the video a look. You won't want to miss designer and visual essayist Debbie Millman, who will be one of the IdeaFestival 2014 speakers! Festival Passes at the Early Bird rate of $350 will be available only through April 27.

Stay curious.


IF Conversations - "Community trumps technology" - John Gauntt

When it comes to mobile media, community trumps technology. Filmed September, 2008 at the ideafestival in Louisville, Kentucky.
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IDEAFESTIVAL - 2008, Louisville Sept 25-27

Magic and mathematics. Ninjas, NASCAR and neuroscience. Dance, design, pop culture and pop cuisine. If it can possibly go together, it goes together here. ideafestival is a gathering of speakers, thinkers and doers, held annually in Louisville. To experience this nearly unimaginable display of the best the human imagination has to offer, visit for tickets and schedule.
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