Discovering the links between courage and cognitive function – ScienceDaily



A new analysis of the courage personality trait found that people who showed higher levels of courage also had different cognitive performance patterns, but not necessarily improved cognitive performance. Nuria Aguerre from the University of Granada, Spain, and colleagues present these results in the open access journal PLOS ONE June 22, 2022.

A courageous person is one who demonstrates remarkable perseverance in pursuing long-term goals, even in the face of setbacks. Researchers typically measure it with an assessment tool known as the Grit Scale. While previous studies have suggested a potential link between courage and certain aspects of cognitive functioning, no studies have directly examined this relationship.

To gain insight, Aguerre and his colleagues asked 134 study participants to complete questionnaires, including the Grit Scale, to rate their personality on three traits: courage, impulsivity and mindfulness. Participants also performed four computer-based experimental tasks to measure different facets of cognitive ability, including flexibility, inhibition, the ability to replace irrelevant items in one’s working memory – which temporarily holds information – with more recent and relevant elements, and the trend of the control mode. .

Statistical analysis of the questionnaire and experimental data revealed that, contrary to the researchers’ predictions, people with higher grain scores did not necessarily score higher on overall cognitive ability. However, consistent with previous research, courage was statistically linked to the personality traits of low impulsivity and mindfulness, both of which are linked to self-regulation.

However, although to a lesser statistical extent, participants with a high level of courage showed different patterns of cognitive performance. The researchers characterized this cognitive profile as exhibiting careful control: an increased ability to pay attention to all available information and to remain sensitive to conflicting information in the present moment, while relying less on prior information.

Taken together, these results suggest that different patterns of cognitive ability – not necessarily greater ability – may underlie courage. This is consistent with ideas previously proposed by other researchers. The researchers describe this study as exploratory and suggest that future research could dig deeper, for example by including a more comprehensive measure of courage and also considering a cognitive ability known as fluid intelligence.

The authors add, “To top the mountain, you don’t need great executive function. Instead, you should be aware of the environment.

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