People with higher IQs are less aggressive and tend to follow the rules, research suggests.
Since higher intelligence is linked to better behaviour, intelligent people are less likely to steal and cheat.
In contrast, younger people with lower IQs are more likely to alarm and harass others, as well as taking part in antisocial behaviour.
Antisocial boys typically have IQ scores 10 points lower than their more social peers.
The insights come from a study of over 1,116 pairs of twins in the UK.
The children were given tests of externalising behaviour and IQ.
Externalising behaviour refers to stealing, cheating, physical aggression and rule-breaking.
The study’s results showed that higher IQs were linked to lower levels of externalising behaviours.
Naturally, lower IQs were linked with more antisocial behaviour.
The study’s authors write:
“Low IQ is a consistent risk factor for emergence and continuity of antisocial behavior across the life course in both prospective and cross-sectional studies, even when other relevant risk factors are statistically controlled.”
Both genetic and situational factors are likely important in the link, the study’s authors write:
“…cognitive deficits might promote antisocial behavior if children with low IQs misunderstand rules, find it too difficult to negotiate conflict with words, find school frustrating, or become tracked with antisocial peers.”
Studies have also linked other positive traits to higher intelligence.
For example, one study has found that being cooperative is a sign of high intelligence.
Cooperative people are good at learning from experience and seeing the bigger picture.
They are generally helpful, mutually supportive and believe in teamwork.
More intelligent people tend to cautiously trust others at first and then build on this over time.
This helps them cooperate better in the long-run, the researchers found.
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 of Abnormal Psychology (Koenen et al., 2008).