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J Pers Soc Psychol. 2004 Jan;86(1):162-73.

General mental ability in the world of work: occupational attainment and job performance.

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Tippie College of Business, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA 52242, USA.


The psychological construct of general mental ability (GMA), introduced by C. Spearman (1904) nearly 100 years ago, has enjoyed a resurgence of interest and attention in recent decades. This article presents the research evidence that GMA predicts both occupational level attained and performance within one's chosen occupation and does so better than any other ability, trait, or disposition and better than job experience. The sizes of these relationships with GMA are also larger than most found in psychological research. Evidence is presented that weighted combinations of specific aptitudes tailored to individual jobs do not predict job performance better than GMA alone, disconfirming specific aptitude theory. A theory of job performance is described that explicates the central role of GMA in the world of work. These findings support Spearman's proposition that GMA is of critical importance in human affairs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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