Are smarter people more or less resilient than those who are not so smart? It turns out that this is not an entirely straightforward question. Here are a couple of key points:

  1. People with high levels of cognitive ability tend to be able to cope better with a wide range of challenges at work and in their general life, which helps them to be able to cope with pressure. This is an obvious plus from a resilience point of view. 
  2. But on the other hand, if you happen to be a little emotionally unstable, being smart can actually be a negative (eg Neihart, 1999). Why? It seems that people who are emotionally sensitive and very smart can have a genius for fretting. They have a capacity to dream up all kinds of negative outcomes which would never even occurred to other people who are less gifted.

So, if you find yourself lying in bed at night being wonderfully creative about the range of possibilities for things going wrong maybe this is the problem.

Of course, the ideal is a combination of high cognitive ability and low emotionality. Both of these characteristics are easily measured by psychological assessments. Click here to find out how. I am running a workshop and webinar on maximising resilience in work teams in early December. Click here to find out more.

Neihart, Maureen (1999) The Impact of Giftedness on Psychological Well-Being. In Roeper Review, Vol. 22, No. 1

Andrew Marty