Are intelligent people more happy?Psychol Med.Jun.2013

24.06.2013

Happiness contributes to resilience and is associated with reduced mortality in both healthy and diseased populations (Childa & Steptoe, 2008). Being happy can increase productivity and creativity.Intelligence is related to education and job success. Lower IQ might  be associated with factors that lower happiness  like lower income, few educational qualifications, unemployment, less social participation,smaller social network, more neurotic symptoms and poorer health.

Higher intelligence is associated with success in education and employment.  Would that make people with higher IQ more happy? Studies so far have generally failed to show such an association.

A. Ali, G. Ambler, A. Strydom, D. Rai, C. Cooper, S. McManus, S. Weich, H. Meltzer, S. Dein and A. Hassiotis  from UK tested this relationship in a large nationally representative sample of 7403 par- ticipants from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey  UK.

The question ” Taking all things together, how would you say you were these days – very happy, fairly happy or not too happy ? ’ was used to measure happiness.verbal IQ was measured using the National Adult Reading Test (NART). All variables mentioned above were measured.

Findings

The mean IQ in the sample was 102.4 . Participants in the highest IQ band (120–129) formed the highest proportion of the ‘very happy ’ group (43.4 %) and participants in the lowest IQ band (70–79) formed the highest proportion of the ‘ not too happy ’ group (11.5 %).

The highest IQ group also had the lowest proportion of people with self-reported health problems and neurotic symptoms compared with the lowest IQ group.

Participants who were more likely to be very happy were male, married or cohabiting, have a higher income and qualifications, have fewer life events, a larger social network, higher levels of social partici- pation, better self-reported health and fewer neurotic symptoms.The 16–34 and 55–54 years age groups were more likely to report being very happy compared with other age groups.Higher levels of socio-economic disadvantage is associated with the lowest IQ groups.

Higher ADL (activities of daily living) dependency, lower income, higher neurotic symptoms and poorer self reported health were found to be strong mediators of the relationship between lower IQ and unhappiness.

Conclusion:IQ is associated with self-reported happiness. Public policy initiatives like increasing income and earning potential by enhancing vocational skills,greater attention to physical health and improving mental health through proactive detection and treatment might be required to bridge this happiness divide.

Summary of the article:

The relationship between happiness and intelligent quotient: the contribution of socio-economic andclinical factors.

Ali A, Ambler G, Strydom A, Rai D, Cooper C, McManus S, Weich S, Meltzer H, Dein S, Hassiotis A.

Psychol Med. 2013 Jun;43(6):1303-12.

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