Feeling happy and satisfied is linked to having a higher IQ, new research finds.
In fact, experiencing positive emotions, feeling lively and wide awake all predict higher intelligence.
The conclusions come from two studies of 440 people who completed tests of personality and well-being/happiness.
When given a task to do, people with higher intelligence were less stressed both before and afterwards, as well as being more engaged, researchers found.
People who were happier and more lively were also more likely to agree with statements like:
- Am quick to understand things.
- Have a rich vocabulary, and intellectual engagement.
- Like to solve complex problems.
Positive answers to these questions matched up with an actual fluid intelligence test they were given.
In other words, smart people were right about being smart, they didn’t just ‘feel’ smart.
Fluid intelligence refers to the speed at which the brain works.
It is like the raw power of an engine or the speed at which a computer can process information.
The study’s authors conclude:
“The results indicated that Intellect was generally associated with lower stress (low distress and worry and high task engagement) before and after intelligence tests.”
Even without being given a test to do, people with higher IQs felt happier and more energetic.
The reason that IQ and happiness are linked could be down to how much importance is placed on being smart in Western cultures.
The authors write:
“It is striking that Intellect was correlated with affect even in Study 1, in which there was no requirement to perform an intellectual task.
At least in Western cultures, intellect may be of sufficient importance to the self-schema that it influences general emotional functioning.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Zajenkowskia & Matthews, 2019).