As humans, one of the skills that makes us unique is the ability to predict the future. Not with exact and clear results, but with great precision: it is relatively easy for us to estimate the number of days it will take us to complete a report, but we can also try to make predictions about who will win a match. football or the chances of us graduating from college. After all, it is simply a matter of using one’s own knowledge from experience and project them towards the future.
In this skill, as in everything, there are people who have an easier time guessing what will happen in the future and who know what kind of profiles presenting these individuals could reveal information about the mechanisms that guide success in imagining likely future situations. For this reason, a team of researchers set out to find out the typical profile of these “prediction champions” and to estimate what types of practices and habits linked to the projection of knowledge into the future could be generalized to the future. whole population.
His findings were recently published in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science.
Student of “elite fortune tellers”
This team of researchers is interested in establishing relationships between the scores obtained on the prediction test and other aspects related to different cognitive skills and styles of thinking. To do this, we started with the type of answers given by several people to questions on aspects outside their daily life, such as:
- How fast will the Chinese economy grow in the next quarter?
- Who will be the president of Russia in 2012?
- Will North Korea detonate another nuclear weapon in the next 3 months?
The different participants were responsible for estimating the probabilities of success for each of the options, and their scores on the ability to predict future events were established by crossing their responses with the actual events that occurred over the months.
Who was best able to predict the future?
The results obtained show two trends related to basic cognitive abilities:
- People more skilled at predicting geopolitical events tend to have a score of IQ above average Population.
- People with greater intelligence crystallized in relevant aspects (general semantics, in-depth knowledge of today’s world, etc.) as well. they get better scores on prediction tests.
In addition, people better able to know what will happen in the future show certain trends in their way of thinking and communicating:
- Fill more inclined to show a flexible type of thinking, Which adapts to improvisation and adapts well to the appearance of small unforeseen events, instead of clinging to dogmatic positions.
- think about deterministically: They believe that things happen for explainable reasons, not by fate or the mysterious events of esotericism. This makes sense, since predicting the future is, in part, about working with probabilities, and these depend on aspects that can be considered at a stage prior to what happens to be predicted.
In addition, people with good predictive skills they tend to seek stimulating situations in search of intellectual challenges.
They tend to be thorough in their approach to these challenges and get emotionally involved in them, as well as being competitive when comparing their results with those of other people. They generally enjoy involving other people in solving these challenges and can therefore empower each other by finding pleasure in discussion and argumentation and taking steps to demonstrate their knowledge and test their readiness towards others. .
It is possible that some of these results are more due to the type of personalities who find it easier to find themselves in contexts where the practice of predictive skills is important (being a broker, being part of a political council, etc. 🙂 , or they may actually tell us about the psychological patterns that result in good performance in that particular task.
Like always, correlation does not imply causation. However, it’s worth continuing to research this or at least be encouraged to like a date we already have a definitive answer to.
- Mellers, B., Stone, E., Murray, T., Minster, A., Rohrbaugh, N., Bishop, M., … and Tetlock, P. (2015). Identify and cultivate superforecasters as a method to improve probable predictions. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 10 (3), pp. 267 – 281.