The search for personality-intelligence relations: Methodological and conceptual issues

Prior to empirical investigation of trait level measures, it had been suggested that, on balance, well-adjusted individuals tended to have a higher level of intelligence than poorly adjusted individuals. The underlying inference was that there should be positive correlations found between personality traits associated with “adjustment” and intelligence, at least at the level of general mental abilities. Over the last several decades, empirical research has suggested that, while there are sources of common variance among personality and intellectual ability measures, the relations are more scattered and provide few general findings (other than broad assessments of neuroticism and so-called engagement traits and intellectual abilities). The status of the empirical research foundation is briefly reviewed. Conceptual and methodological issues, such as non-linear relations, typical and maximal behaviors, contextualized assessment, and missing linkages are discussed in an effort to explore personality and intelligence traits in a manner that might better reveal underlying relations between these domains.