Relationships Between Personality and Cognitive Ability


The report specifies the hypotheses that facets explain variances in crystallized and fluid intelligence better than domains do and that personality traits are more strongly related to crystallized than to fluid intelligence. The Big Five framework is used as a rationale to justify the offered ideas based on past studies and the investment theory of intelligence.

An online access panel survey was used to address the extent to which personality could be associated with fluid or crystallized intelligence in terms of the Big Five domains and facets.

Separate regression analyses of fluid and crystallized intelligence as dependent variables were developed, and linear associations were reported. The facet-level analysis helped to reveal the required association between the elements of the Big Five.

All the hypotheses were answered at the end of the study. The findings are limited due to short-scale measures being implemented as intelligence indicators and the inability to control test conditions as the assessment was a part of an online survey.

The recommendations for future research include the choice of large sample size, the application of more comprehensive tests and analytical tools, and the development of longitudinal studies to define additional personality effects.

Critical Review

The progress of the relationships between cognitive abilities and personality or “non-ability” traits remains a common topic for discussion in many studies. Some researchers support the idea that it is necessary to investigate personality traits separately from cognitive abilities (Wettstein et al., 2017). Sutin et al. (2019) explain the connection between personality traits and cognitive functions in human development.

The current critical review will prove that it is high time to question and re-interpret domain-level associations within the Big Five framework. In this paper, attention will be paid to the findings by Rammstedt et al. (2018) that prove a systematic relation between personality and cognitive abilities from a fine-grained perspective. The scholars thoroughly evaluate the Big Five personality domains and facets within the fluid and crystallized intelligence. Although personality is more related to crystallized than fluid intelligence, human abilities to think flexibly and use facts and knowledge should be explained through the prism of facets and domains in a larger cognitive context.


In the article under analysis, three main arguments contribute to a better understanding of the development of the personality-cognitive ability, recognizing the role of both domains and facets. The authors develop original research and base their ideas on previous findings to prove that personality traits can be more strongly related to crystallized intelligence than to fluid intelligence (Rammstedt et al., 2018).

To properly structure their study, they first introduce the theme and explain why it is crucial to pay attention to a more fine-grained perspective. Then, they describe the chosen method of an online survey and the necessity to work with a heterogeneous sample to enhance the generalizability of the findings. At the same time, the choice of such a sample becomes a serious limitation not only in its size (as mentioned by the authors) but also in terms of its socio-cultural aspects (the participants were all Germans of an average age of 43). The recommendation for a future study is to work with people who are different in age and education level.

Crystallized and Fluid Intelligence

To identify the worth of cognitive ability, the study aims at explaining the differences between fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence. The decision to use the already published peer-reviewed articles was correct. Still, Rammstedt et al. (2018) underlined the worth of Raymond B. Cattell’s and Donald Hebb’s ideas but relied on the discussion of Richard E. Brown. This analysis could be subjective and less credible, and it is suggested to address the source and reflect on the existing cognitive ability models, not their evaluations. Fluid and crystallized intelligence develop in different ways during a lifespan, and their interaction may be determined by multiple factors like cultural background, a person’s age, or human abilities.

It was properly admitted that fluid intelligence is less sensitive compared to decisions based on facts and knowledge, which explained weak relationships with some Big Five domains (Rammstedt et al., 2018). However, the authors did not explain the reasons for this sensitivity to different intellectual investments. In case they use more original studies in their research, they could determine more crucial details and definitions.

Facets and Domains in the Big Five

Another important argument discussed in the article is the differences between facets and domains of the Big Five framework and their impact on personality. Compared to other studies where the scholars considered the role of domains in the development of specific abilities, Rammstedt et al. (2018) offered to analyze the associations of the two intelligence types through a facet-like perspective and a hierarchical model. The authors assumed that facets could be more effective in casual relationships compared to commonly used personality domains. The 60-item Big Five Inventory-2 allowed a profound measurement of personality (Rammstedt et al., 2018).

Still, in most cases, the positive facet- or domain-level association was proved using negative associations of their counterparts. As a result, it may be offered to conduct new longitudinal studies to reveal the benefits of particular associations. In addition, to continue this investigation, it is necessary to compare all facets in all personality domains but not selectively as was done in the current article.

Cognitive Ability and Personality Traits

One of the most specific features of the chosen article is the intention of the authors not to differentiate the characteristics of cognitive abilities and personality traits but focus on what can affect this interface from the outside. In comparison to previous studies, including meta-analyses, where much work was done on integrative cognition and personality, Rammstedt et al. (2018) used the Big Give as a model of personality and cognitive ability measures.

Both issues represent multi-faceted constructs and can be united, and the authors focus on their associations with domain and facets, not with each other. Crystallized and fluid intelligence are the essential parts of cognitive ability, and this study shows how facets may determine different qualities and traits, eliminating the shortages of generalized domains and their associations. To better analyze the relationships between cognitive ability and personality and their association to each cognitive task, not only separate but linear regression may be used.


In general, three main arguments can be identified in the article written by Rammstedt et al. First, the relationship between cognitive ability and personality has been proved and explained based on the Big Five and investment theory of intelligence. Second, the discussion of differences between fluid and crystallized intelligence helps realize the importance of new measurements in the analysis. Finally, the role of domains and facets cannot be ignored, and the authors explain the possible priority of facets over domains. Although there are limitations regarding the chosen methods and the sample, the findings of the study strengthen the worth of the facet-level perspective.

The application of new research designs and the involvement of diversified populations should be recommended for future research. This approach is effective in developing personality traits and cognitive ability, enhancing real-life performance, and predicting negative mental health-related outcomes.


Rammstedt, B., Lechner, C. M., & Danner, D. (2018). Relationships between personality and cognitive ability: A facet-level analysis. Journal of Intelligence, 6(2). Web.

Sutin, A. R., Stephan, Y., Luchetti, M., & Terracciano, A. (2019). Five-factor model personality traits and cognitive function in five domains in older adulthood. BMC Geriatrics, 19(1). Web.

Wettstein, M., Tauber, B., Kuźma, E., & Wahl, H. W. (2017). The interplay between personality and cognitive ability across 12 years in middle and late adulthood: Evidence for reciprocal associations. Psychology and Aging, 32(3), 259-277. Web.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Relationships Between Personality and Cognitive Ability." September 18, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Relationships Between Personality and Cognitive Ability." September 18, 2023.