New research shows that people with lower IQs are unhappier and more likely to have poorer health than people with higher IQs.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Medicine, provides new insight into the relationship between IQ and happiness, according to researchers from the University College London.
The researchers analyzed data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey in England.
The 6,870 participants, age 16 and older, were interviewed about their education, health, income, and social life. Happiness was measured on a three point scale, while verbal IQ was estimated using the National Adult Reading Test (NART).
The study found that people in the lower IQ range (70-89) — who make up around 15 percent of the UK population — are more likely to be socially disadvantaged and less happy compared to people with a higher IQ. Those with a lower IQ also have a higher prevalence of common mental disorders and suicidal behavior, the researchers found.
“We found that IQ is associated with self-reported happiness, as levels of happiness were lowest in the lower IQ groups and highest in the higher IQ groups,” said lead author Dr. Angela Hassiotis. “This is particularly relevant when considering the current political debates on happiness.”
“When looking at the data we saw that people with a lower IQ were less likely to be happier because of higher levels of socio-economic disadvantage such as lower income,” she continued.
“They are also less likely to be happy because they need more help with skills of daily living, have poorer health and report more symptoms of psychological distress.”
“Our findings provide evidence for the need to better support people in this group,” added Afia Ali, Ph.D., co-author of the study. “Interventions that reduce these social inequalities could improve levels of happiness in people with lower IQ.”
The researchers suggest several approaches that could be used. These include promoting programs that tackle education and long term unemployment; improving physical health through targeted health promotion in primary care; and managing mental health through pro-active detection and treatment with a focus on those with milder forms of cognitive and social impairments.
“There is also some evidence that long-term intensive strategies directed at young children from socially deprived backgrounds can have a positive impact not only on IQ but also on well-being and life opportunities,” said Hassiotis.
“Such interventions are likely to be costly but the initial costs may be offset by future benefits, such as a reduced reliance on state benefits and better mental and physical health.”
Source: University College London