Do Your Ultras Make You Smarter?

February 1, 2013 |  by

How much do those we surround ourselves with affect our intelligence?

That’s what Ap Dijksterhuis and Ad van Knippenberg, professors at the University of Nijmegen (in the Netherlands) wanted to find out. In a 1995 experiment (reported in Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink), they asked students to think about college professors before answering a set of 60 Trivial Pursuit questions. Another group of students was asked to think about soccer hooligans, before answering the same questions.

As expected, the “hooligans” group scored lower. In fact, in a similar test, a “professors” group answered 59.5% of the questions right, compared to 46.4% for a “secretaries” group. A 13% difference!

It’s more than intelligence at stake.¬†Dijksterhuis says that “[those we associate with] can make us…helpful, rude, polite, long-winded, hostile, aggressive, cooperative, competitive, conforming, nonconforming, conservative, forgetful, careful, careless, neat [or] sloppy.”

Conclusion? Be careful who you work with!



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