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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 May 12;106(19):7745-50. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0812360106. Epub 2009 Apr 24.

Cognitive skills affect economic preferences, strategic behavior, and job attachment.

Author information

1
Division of Social Sciences, University of Minnesota, 600 East 4th Street, Morris, MN 56267-2134, USA. svburks@morris.umn.edu

Abstract

Economic analysis has so far said little about how an individual's cognitive skills (CS) are related to the individual's economic preferences in different choice domains, such as risk taking or saving, and how preferences in different domains are related to each other. Using a sample of 1,000 trainee truckers we report three findings. First, there is a strong and significant relationship between an individual's CS and preferences. Individuals with better CS are more patient, in both short- and long-run. Better CS are also associated with a greater willingness to take calculated risks. Second, CS predict social awareness and choices in a sequential Prisoner's Dilemma game. Subjects with better CS more accurately forecast others' behavior and differentiate their behavior as a second mover more strongly depending on the first-mover's choice. Third, CS, and in particular, the ability to plan, strongly predict perseverance on the job in a setting with a substantial financial penalty for early exit. Consistent with CS being a common factor in all of these preferences and behaviors, we find a strong pattern of correlation among them. These results, taken together with the theoretical explanation we offer for the relationships we find, suggest that higher CS systematically affect preferences and choices in ways that favor economic success.

PMID:
19416865
PMCID:
PMC2683075
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.0812360106
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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