Personality, Emotional Intelligence, and Rationality

Living reference work entry


Even though economic models have typically put forth human capital, measured by standard intelligence tests, as the main driver of economic success, new developments in personality psychology and neuroscience have allowed economists to consider a wider variety of individual predictors. This chapter starts by briefly reviewing the literature on intelligence and work performance and discussing the added value of personality traits such as conscientiousness and grit to explain a person’s career achievements. Recent developments in cognitive psychology and neuroscience are then described as an inspiration for the study of new dimensions of human capital such as reflective skills and emotional intelligence. Even though each of these variables independently captures necessary ingredients for explaining economic success, complementarity effects exist. In particular, possessing high reflective skills along with acute emotional intelligence could grant a decisive comparative advantage. This is especially so because these skills are mostly uncorrelated, thus making it rather unique to possess both. Nevertheless, there are examples in which possessing very high levels of these skills might actually be detrimental to the individual and the organization. This suggests our understanding of the individual determinants of economic success might still be incomplete.



Brice Corgnet performed this research within the framework of the LABEX CORTEX (ANR-11-LABX-0042) of Université de Lyon, within the program Investissements d’Avenir (ANR-11-IDEX-007) operated by the French National Research Agency (ANR).


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.EM Lyon Business SchoolGATE L-SE UMR 5824, 23 avenue Guy de Collongue CS 40203Ecully cedexFrance
  2. 2.University ParkNottinghamUK
  3. 3.Burgundy School of BusinessUniversité Bourgogne Franche-ComtéDijonFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marie Claire Villeval
    • 1
  1. 1.GATECNRS – University of LyonEcullyFrance

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