The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, January 23, 2012

Are actors dumb?

It is not difficult to find someone who believes actors are dumb. Indeed, some actors encourage this impression by the kinds of interviews they give. However, my experience, in the past, with actors, is that, in general they are bright – at least the ones I worked with are. What makes film-making interesting, as much as anything else, is the conversations to be had, with the other cast members, during breaks in filming: why? Because they are relatively smart.

Now, my personal observation that actors seem smart and make for good conversationalists, has some interesting scientific backing. Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist at the LSE found, in his research, that attractive people have higher IQs than unattractive people. The average discrepancy was 12.4 IQ points – which is really quite a lot. The disparity was greater for attractive and unattractive men, with the difference being 13.61 IQ points. For women the difference was 11.39 IQ points.

It is not much of a leap to see that this supports my personal experience that actors are relatively bright. You see, to be cast as an actor, in a film, one usually has to be more attractive than the average person. Thus, the cast of a film will be selected for attractiveness and will be superior in that respect. Since attractiveness and intelligence have a correlation of 0.381, there will be a tendency for the more attractive actors and actresses, to also be smarter than the average person as well. Hence, my experience that they make for good conversation.

So, the next time you hear someone call actors “dumb”, you might just like to point their way to Kanazawa’s research on attractiveness and intelligence. If an actor or actress is good looking, they are also likely to be relatively intelligent, too – or at least 12.4 IQ points above their unattractive peers, anyway.

Satoshi Kanazawa made a very interesting point in an article he wrote for Psychology Today. He noted that the correlation of intelligence and attractiveness was exactly the same as the correlation of intelligence and education...0.381. Thus, he pointed out, quite tellingly, that you are as safe to make a judgement on someone’s intelligence from an assessment of their attractiveness, as you are from knowledge of their education. That struck me as rather interesting. So, all you have to do to see whether someone is likely to be intelligent is to judge whether are pretty or handsome!

Please note the limitation on this. The mean difference in intelligence between the attractive and the unattractive was only 12.4 IQ points. It wasn’t 50 IQ points. So just because someone is pretty, that doesn’t mean they are a genius, too. However, it does mean that they are less likely to be seriously dumb – and that they are more likely to be a genius than someone who is less attractive. Appearance is just one more useful characteristic for assessing how intelligent people are.

Posted by Valentine Cawley

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 4:28 PM 


Blogger Lemni said...

I used to think that actors were dumb... Until reading a biography of Jodie Foster.

4:03 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Yes. She is a bright woman. Though she seems to choose to work infrequently these days...probably too rich to care.

It shouldn't be surprising that actors are relatively bright, since there are quite a few demands in their jobs - though perhaps those who have never acted are not aware enough of these.

Best wishes to you.

11:22 AM  

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