Why Rebellious Drug-Takers Have Higher IQs

Intelligent people often value novel things and also tend to be offbeat and rebellious.

Intelligent people often value novel things and also tend to be offbeat and rebellious.

People with high IQs are more likely to consume mind-altering substances, research finds.

Whether it is alcohol, tobacco or psychoactive drugs like LSD, intelligence and drug-taking are linked.

More intelligent people are also more likely to have sampled a variety of different recreational drugs in the past.

The explanation could be that intelligent people are attracted to novelty or that they do not fear becoming addicted due to higher self-control.

Offbeat and rebellious

On top of this people with higher intelligence are more likely to be original, offbeat and rebellious, research finds.

More intelligent people have a distinct, individual style and avoid following the crowd.

Non-conformists may be more intelligent because they are less afraid to break society’s conventions.

The conclusions come from a small study that asked 46 people about their ‘need for uniqueness’ and tested their intelligence.

They were asked whether they agreed with statements like:

  • “I do not always need to live by the rules and standards of society.”
  • “I tend to express my opinions publicly, regardless of what others say.”
  • “When a style of clothing I own becomes too commonplace, I usually quit wearing it.”

The results showed that people with higher IQs were more likely to endorse statements indicating a preference for uniqueness.

More intelligent people may be more resourceful, which explains their independence, the study’s authors write:

“…the more intelligent someone is, the less dependent this person is on the group to acquire resources.

This means that highly intelligent people can afford more non-conformist behavior because of their capacity to secure resources in isolation.

…as general intelligence increases the need to conform to group norms decreases.”

These findings fit with another study that has found that people with high IQs drink more alcohol, although they are unlikely to be heavy drinkers.

Another possibility is that more intelligent people are more likely to get bored.


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Hello, and welcome to PsyBlog. Thanks for dropping by.

This site is all about scientific research into how the mind works.

It’s mostly written by psychologist and author, Dr Jeremy Dean.

I try to dig up fascinating studies that tell us something about what it means to be human.

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Author: Jeremy Dean

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, 2013) and several ebooks.