According to a recent study by researchers at Baylor University, people who are “intellectually arrogant,” or think they know everything, tend to perform better academically than more modest people. This surprised researchers, who had assumed that more modest people would do better as they were more open to criticism and learning new things.
The team had over 100 undergrads work together in group projects over a semester, and tested them individually and as groups. The two kinds of tests helped them determine how people view each other, and allowed them to correct for the fact that most people don’t view themselves the way others do.
The results were surprising, and it would be interesting to see more research into this subject. This is only one study, after all. How do intellectually arrogant people do in the long term? Why do they perform better, academically, than more modest people.
Bearing in mind that just because somebody thinks they know everything doesn’t necessarily mean that they do, how does that translate to academic success? One possibility is that, since these people assume they’re smarter than their peers, perhaps they simply work harder to achieve grades that they feel are in line with their intelligence. If something doesn’t make sense at first, they may work harder to understand it, while a more modest person may just assume that they can’t figure it out.
More research along these lines could be really helpful for teachers of younger students, especially those who don’t think they’re very smart. Young children who don’t think they’re capable of learning or succeeding in school are less likely to succeed, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we can figure out how this phenomenon exists, perhaps getting kids to think more highly of their own abilities could help them get better grades and, potentially, go further in life.