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Believing hard work trumps genetics might help you ace that test

September 8, 2014

Score one for nurture over nature — an MSU study shows people perform better knowing their intelligence comes from their environment rather than their genetics.

Clinical Psychology doctoral student Hans Schroder is the one behind this experimental study. He believes telling people hard work is more important than genetics leads to positive results in the brain and might trigger people to want to work harder.

“I was interested in people’s intelligence because of its genetics and valuable characteristics,” Schroder said. “The study pays more attention to genetics and environment and pays attention to people’s errors from the study.”

In the study, participants are separated in two groups in which one reads an article about intelligence is mainly based on genetics and the other reads about geniuses’ intelligence is based on their surroundings in the environment. Participants were then asked to remember the key points in the articles. The results showed that those who read the article on environment were more prone to learn from their errors based on a more effective brain response.

“If they paid attention to the errors, they were faster,” Schroder said. “Their brains worked effectively after mistakes and showed new results.”

Assistant professor of psychology Jason Moser has worked with Schroder on this study. As a student of Moser’s, Schroder worked in his lab and were both running on results.

“Telling people briefly you can change your experience in environment due to intelligence is amazing,” Moser said. “Changing somebody’s brain activity by reading something blew me away.”

Advertising junior Ka Lee said a study like this will encourage students to want to learn more.

“I think it’s interesting to see results on how your brain stimulates to certain traits based on someone’s intelligence,” Lee said. “It would be interesting to further learn about when it expands to more people.”

Linguistics junior Maribel Quiroz said it’s a way to boost self esteem.

“It boosts self confidence on someone and helps them perform better,” Quiroz said. “They are mentally feeling like they got it, rather than thinking they are going to perform better.”

The study will continue on as more attention and performances emerge.

“Our study has an impact on the way the brain performs with intelligence,” Schroder said. “It’s efficient and is changing the way we look at intelligence as the study continues on.”

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