Arnold Kling  

Prisoners' Dilemma and The Unmentionable

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Garett Jones writes,


Are more intelligent groups of people better at cooperating? Repeated prisoner’s dilemma (RPD) experiments run at numerous universities since 1959 may hold the answer. Overall, the tendency is clear: Students at schools with higher average SAT and ACT scores cooperate much more often—yielding about 5% more cooperation for every 100 combined SAT points (See Figures 1-3). Students at the best schools cooperate about 15% more often than typical college students.

These results may be of special interest to growth and development economists...Jones and Schneider (2006b) demonstrate a correlation of 0.8 between national average IQ and log GDP per capita, and in a Bayesian model averaging test, Jones and Schneider (2006a) found that in steady state 1 IQ point is associated with 6% more output per person (for similar results cf., inter alia, Ram (2006), Weede and Kampf (2002), Lynn and Vanhanen (2006)).

However, Jones and Schneider (2006b) report that in the labor literature, the correlation between IQ and log wages is only about 0.3, and 1 IQ point is associated with only about 1% higher wages. Thus, IQ seems to matter more at the macro level than at the micro level. The question arises: Why the difference between individual and aggregate outcomes?


We know that The Unmentionable is correlated with individual incomes. There is also notorious work, to which he refers, showing a relationship between national average Unmentionable and economic growth. In fact, the quoted passage appears to be saying that the Unmentionable has an even stronger effect at a national average level, suggesting that there is some sort of positive externality involved. The point of this paper is that one of those positive externalities may be that people with high levels of The Unmentionable are better able to co-operate with one another.

Garett will be speaking on this paper tomorrow here, which is on the other side of the river from me, and at rush hour, to boot. I'd need a GPS and a large supply of road-rage-suppressant meds in order to attend.



COMMENTS (8 to date)
TGGP writes:

Dennis Mangan, without intending to, explains how Jones' findings relate to immigration here.

Dr. Troy Camplin writes:

More intelligent people are able to see more patterns in the world, including patterns of behavior. They are also typically more capable of communicating better. The combination of better interpretation of behavior and better communication will, of course, result in better cooperation. More connections among people will thus be able to be made among more intelligent people, and more connections make for more complex interactions and, thus, for a more complex system, resulting in the emergence of more complex behaviors, where the outcome is, indeed, more than the sum of its parts, as noted.

Mark Seecof writes:

Remind me again why we should expect importing a large number of low-IQ immigrants to promote US economic growth in the long term?

jaim klein writes:

Mark, Each low-IQ new immigrant frees up a high-IQ old resident from working in an abbatoir and enables him to enjoy witty economy blogs and so promotes long term economic growth.

General Specific writes:

Mr Jones Abstract says: "way to create cooperation is to encourage players to be patient and perceptive"

Seems like the word "complacent" might also fit in the above list. Universities train people to follow rules. Let's call them hoop-jumpers. The better the university, the better the students are at hoop jumping. So maybe we're not dealing with IQ here. Maybe we're dealing with mindless followership. Let's posit a new concept: Hoop-jumping quotient (HQ). The problem is that GMU wouldn't look at that, because it's not cool in the GMU world. The selection process of GMU focuses on IQ, not HQ.

(Note: If lemming's really jumped off cliffs, we could say that lemmings have a high HQ. And then we could call it the LQ.)

Garrett Jones "academic paper" itself seems to smell of what I'd call cherry picking. He knows the answer he wants, and organizes the data in a way to "prove" it.

Ps: I only use the scare quotes on "academic paper" since Mr Kling likes them so I thought I'd give 'em a try.

Pps: Can someone tell Mr Jones to put his name inside his paper? Or did I miss it. Seems like a basic thing that would make it a good academic paper instead of just an "academic paper." Thought perhaps I missed his name inside, making my comment a "comment."

TGGP writes:

General Specific, you just invented the term "HQ". IQ has been used for a long time and has considerable predictive ability. Jones' paper is based on SAT/ACT scores which can be considered substitutes for IQ tests. I don't see how your HQ would have anything to do with them. What experiment would you propose to distinguish your theory and his.

Steve Sailer writes:

I find this theory very plausible, but I don't think looking at average SAT score of a college proves it definitively, since there is in the admissions process multi-collinearity between average SAT scores and average cooperativeness as measured both by high school GPA and by number of clubs joined. Higher prestige schools tend to rank higher on the high school performance of all three than lower prestige schools.

There are probably a few exceptions -- the one leaps to mind is Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which considers only SAT and GPA, but not (I believe) extra-curriculars.

S.L.Slayton writes:

You might want to read _Before the Dawn_ for an interesting explanation of the evolution of the behaviors necessary to live in other than nomadic conditions.

The book includes a very carefully worded discussion of The Unmentionable.

sls

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