Use Your Words

By : January 13, 2012

It’s notoriously difficult to figure out which top collegiate quarterbacks will succeed in the NFL. Pro teams give prospects an SAT-type test called the Wonderlic test, which doesn’t parliament cigarettes predict all that accurately.  A company called Achievement Metrics, on the other hand, studies the words college athletes use in media interviews. Some use words that signal high degrees of confidence, conceptual complexity and team orientation. Others use words that signal self-centeredness and distrust.

The results of their work were recently written up by Machael Agger in Slate. The most arresting example concerns a choice the San Francisco 49ers faced in 2005, whether to draft Alex Smith or Aaron Rodgers as their future quarterback. Both were college stars and Smith had a phenomenal score on the Wonderlic test. But Smith didn’t use common leadership words in his interviews, while Rodgers had leadership words spewing out of his mouth.

The method assumes that the words we blurt out in a quick interview are a window into our soul. I don’t know if that’s true, but they might be as good an indicator of football performance as an IQ test.

David Brooks
Source: New York Times

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