I been told that spelling ability (good orthography) is correlated with intelligence (which is a nice way to say: if you are bad with orthography, you are stupid). So far I have been unable to find a conclusive evidence based answer

I found this link, that says there is a correlation between personality and orthography (if you are more confident, you are more likely to make mistakes).

And this article at the Straight Dope which says that if your spelling mistakes are from dyslexia you are not necessary stupid.

But neither of them answers my question. Is there a correlation with adult intelligence? (I do not believe so, because I have met smart people that are bad at spelling, but they might be an anomaly.) So I would really like to know if that is the way it works in the majority of the cases.

  • 2
    As for most of the question regarding intelligence it really depends on how you define intelligence. It is certain that many people who have bad ortography probably did not have a good education, and certainly lack of education may influence their IQ (if that is how you want to define intelligence).
    – nico
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 21:23
  • There was a time (e.g. in the Middle Ages) when only people the most educated people could write at all. Conversely, I read recently that they don't teach orthography in school these days.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 22:03
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    ^ When I said "orthography" there I meant "correct hand-writing": not just spelling or typing on a keyboard.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 22:04
  • I don't know about English, but in the past, French orthography wasn't as strict as it is today. Therefore, it did not matter that much, even among educated people who could write properly. I think it has more to do with discipline, and the ability to comply to rules.
    – Aeronth
    Commented Jun 28, 2013 at 23:12
  • @ChrisW: now, not many people able to type on a keyboard in those days, eh? :D
    – nico
    Commented Jun 29, 2013 at 7:59

1 Answer 1


An (small) experiment about correlation between orthographic and logical-mathematical skills was made on 10-year-old children in 2013. The 60 children studied were finally divided in 3 groups:

  1. "standard" children that succeeded in most tests in both dommains,
  2. children having written language difficulties,
  3. children followed for logical difficulties.

The results showed that:

  • group 2 experiencing real difficulties on grammatical spelling activities often have good performance on logic.
  • group 3 had an homogeneous profile with difficulties in both tested fields.

The conclusion would then be that logical-mathematical difficulties are generally associated with spelling problems. But, bad ortograph doesn't necessarily imply limited "intelligence".

Source: Corrélation entre le niveau d’orthographe grammaticale et les compétences logico-mathématiques. (short summary in English at the end of the document).

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