Cognitive or intellectual investment theories propose that the development of intelligence is partially influenced by personality traits, in particular by so-called investment traits that determine when, where, and how people invest their time and effort in their intellect. This investment, in turn, is thought to contribute to individual differences in cognitive growth and the accumulation of knowledge across the life span. We reviewed the psychological literature and identified 34 trait constructs and corresponding scales that refer to intellectual investment. The dispositional constructs were further classified into 8 related trait categories that span the construct space of intellectual investment. Subsequently, we sought to estimate the association between the identified investment traits and indicators of adult intellect, including measures of crystallized intelligence, academic performance (e.g., grade point average), college entry tests, and acquired knowledge. A meta-analysis of 112 studies with 236 coefficients and an overall sample of 60,097 participants indicated that investment traits were mostly positively associated with adult intellect markers. Meta-analytic coefficients ranged considerably, from 0 to .58, with an average estimate of .30. We concluded that investment traits are overall positively related to adult intellect; the strength of investment–intellect associations differs across trait scales and markers of intellect; and investment traits have a diverse, multifaceted nature. The meta-analysis also identified areas of inquiry that are currently lacking in empirical research. Limitations, implications, and future directions are discussed.
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