People with higher IQs are likely to live longer, according to research.
Those with high intelligence in childhood are less likely to get heart disease, strokes, respiratory diseases and dementia later on.
Higher intelligence may allow people to learn better health behaviours and cope more effectively with problems over the years.
Some of the lowered risk is down to the fact that more intelligent people are less likely to smoke.
The conclusions come from a Scottish study that included 938 people who were followed for over 25 years.
The results showed that for every 15 points of higher IQ, people’s risk of dying was reduced by 17 percent.
This study found the link between IQ and longevity was strongest in children brought up in poorer neighbourhoods.
Higher intelligence, then, is particularly beneficial to the longevity of poorer people, said Dr Carole L. Hart, the study’s first author:
“The significant interaction found between IQ and deprivation suggests that IQ in childhood is less important in terms of mortality for people who live in more affluent areas in adulthood than for people who live in deprived areas.”
It is not yet clear how IQ is related to longevity, said Dr Hart:
“It is possible that low childhood IQ leads to adult deprivation, which in turn leads to earlier death.”
Some studies have suggested that IQ and longevity are linked to the same sets of genes.
Another possibility is that adverse circumstances, which are often linked to being poor, can lower IQ.
Worse nutrition, educational opportunities and deprived areas may all take their toll on mental development.
Other studies have also suggested that higher IQ leads to a longer life.
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 Psychosomatic Medicine (Hart et al., 2003).