Study up! Smart people have been shown to live longer.
Multiple studies have shown that there is a definitely a link between IQ scores and life span.
Why is IQ used to define ‘smart’?
Smart in these studies is defined by IQ tests. IQ tests have been used since the early 1900s. Though there is debate about what exactly is tested by an IQ test (there are many kinds of ‘smart’), the results are very consistent through many studies. People tend to test similarly on the IQ test throughout their lives, and IQ scores are heritable. For the purposes of the studies linking life span and intelligence, IQ is used as the measure.
Why would people with high IQs live longer?
No one is quite sure yet. It hasn’t been further investigated for two main reasons. One is that it’s considered an un-PC topic. After all, it sounds a bit elitist to suggest that smart people will live longer. The other reason is the opposite side of the spectrum. Some consider these results to be expected. After all, those who are intelligent are more likely to have a higher standard of living and conversely, those with a higher standard of living are more likely to test well on an IQ test. However, according to Ian Deary in the journal Nature, “Intelligence can predict mortality more strongly than body mass index, total cholesterol, blood pressure or blood glucose, and at a similar level to smoking.” This is a very striking result that deserves further study.
So what does this mean for me?
Well if you have a high IQ this is good news, but this doesn’t mean you can stop working out and eating well. A healthy lifestyle is still the best way to live a long life. In fact one theory suggests that people with high IQs may be living longer because they tend to have healthier lifestyles. If your IQ isn’t so high there’s no need to worry yet. The good and bad news for people of any IQ is that this link between life span and high IQis not well understood. The best way to live a long life is still to stay healthy. But now maybe you should add a daily dose of brain exercise to your physical workout!
Click here to take an IQ test.
What is IQ anyway?
Wikipedia article on longevity and life span.
Original article abstract from one of the studies linking high IQ and life span later in life.
Original article abstract from another study that studied men in the Australian army.
Original article yet another abstract from a study. This study links childhood IQ to life span.
Original article abstract from a study that examines socio-economic factors in addition to life span
Photo by Zhang Erning