Drinking higher levels of alcohol and binge drinking are both linked to a lower IQ, research finds.
People with higher IQs tend to avoid binge drinking.
The conclusions come from a study of 49,321 Swedish men conscripted for military service between 1969 and 1971.
They were given IQ tests and asked about their alcohol intake.
The lower their IQ was, the more they drank and the more likely they were to binge drink.
It is not clear from the study exactly how IQ is linked to alcohol intake.
However, it is likely that lower IQ is linked to lower social status and emotional problems, both of which may drive higher rates of alcohol consumption.
The study’s authors conclude:
“We found that lower results on IQ tests are associated with higher consumption of alcohol measured in terms of both total alcohol intake and binge drinking in Swedish adolescent men.”
People with higher IQs tend to be healthier, the authors explain:
“One suggested explanation for the association between intelligence and health is that cognitive skills enhance possibilities to make healthy lifestyle choices.
Cognitive ability has been found to be associated with several health-related behaviors, such as smoking, food intake, and physical activity.”
Previous studies have also linked binge drinking to lower IQ.
However, in that study, people with higher IQs had higher levels of average alcohol consumption.
The results fit with the fact that highly intelligent people are also more likely to use drugs.
It could be because the intelligent tend to be easily bored.
At the same time, though, they also led healthier lifestyles.
The divergence between the studies could be down to different populations.
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 Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research Journal (Sjölund et al., 2015).