Andy’s Quick Hits (7): Is DQ (Decision Acuity) Better than IQ or EQ for Business Leaders?

Photo 120181603 / Making © Kiosea39 |

So here’s another *Q to add to the bag on top of IQ and EQ and many others proposed. This is based on recent research, fresh off the presses, that relates to decision-making abilities in young adults

High decision acuity, as the researchers called this showed:

  • Faster learning
  • Better consideration of outcomes in distant future
  • Reward sensitivity
  • Higher trust in others
  • Low propensity for retaliation

The influences on this seemed to be:

  • Age (so maturity does play a role)
  • Parental education (so there’s a socio-economic factor at play)

In the brain the regions involved are:

  • Opercular cortex (considered part of insular cortex involved with embodiment of feelings amongst others). For review see lbR 2021–02
  • Posterior cingulate cortex (involved with creating cognitive maps). For review see lbR 2021–04
  • Somatosensory and motor areas (showing the integration of bodily responses even if only imaginary)

Though some of the above, including the socioeconomic factors, would suggest that this is related to IQ, the researchers noted that this decision-acuity was independent of IQ, meaning you can have “smarter” people with lower decision acuity (sometimes also known as a “Fachidiot” in German) and “dumber” people with higher decision acuity. Which we kind of always knew anyhow!

Because they noted that this decision acuity was stable over time (i.e. the 18-month period for this piece of research) the suggestion is that this is more trait-like.

This is an important insight because it shows that this could be a much better predictor of leadership performance where precisely this is the role of a leader: making better decisions particularly those which involve people. In fact this may be better than EQ because DQ (I just invented that term, by the way) involves social awareness and functioning. So maybe it’s not IQ vs. EQ but has always been DQ.

The research was carried out in young people but the results are certainly fascinating and important. What is also particularly impressive with this research is the size of it — 830 individuals between 14 and 24 years old took part in this and a massive (for brain scanning research which often has population groups <20) subset of 295 were scanned using fMRI and also impressive is that 571 were tested again 18 months later and 223 with fMRI!

Andy is author of leading brains Review a monthly e-magazine on all things the brain, behaviour, and business.

Andy publishes a quick hit (1-min read) every weekday on all things the brain, behaviour, and business. Please follow to receive updates.

The brain and human behaviour, in business, society, learning, and health.

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