What makes people happy? Leisure? Love? Religion? Money? As you can see, there are many answers, but an intriguing one comes out of new work appearing in the journal Psychological Medicine. Those who have lower intelligence are more apt to be unhappy than those who have a higher IQ.
Relying on data from the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidly Survey in England, the study included 6,870 subjects who were over 16 years old and lived in private homes. Happiness was measured via a validated questionnaire with such questions as, “Taking all things together, how would you say you were these days – very happy, fairly happy or not too happy?” The subject’s verbal IQ was also measured using the National Adult Reading Test.
The most saying they were “very happy” were found in those whose IQ measured between 120 and 129. A full 43% of the study subjects reported themselves as happy, more than any other IQ level.
The findings of the study showed that lower intelligence was often associated with making less money and poorer mental health, and these two contribute mightily to unhappiness. The highest numbers saying they were “not too happy” was seen in those who had an IQ between 70 and 79, 12% of the study population. Those on the lower end of the normal spectrum more often see themselves as not being happy.
As a point of reference. IQs in the 90 to 110 range are considered normal, or average intelligence. About half of all adults fall into this category.
Lower IQ was linked to lower income, worse health and needing assistance with daily activities like shopping, housework or meal prep. All this contributes to feeling unhappy. It appears that the relationship between IQ and feelings of wellbeing may be partly due to the fact that higher intelligence allows people to make more money, suffer less mental illness and be healthier overall.
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Study: IQ Associated With How Happy You Are Continued…
Dr. Angela Hassiotis who lead the researchers from University College London says that there’s evidence that long term, intensive approaches aimed directly at the young of socially disadvantaged backgrounds can have a positive impact not just on IQ but also on feelings of wellbeing and opportunities in life. Programs that help to improve public schools and cut unemployment while also being targeted in terms of promoting regular health care are key. Being proactive in detecting and treating mental health issues is also important and would certainly contribute to feelings of happiness.
While such interventions are costly and challenging, we have to think about the future benefits of keeping people from relying on state benefits and having them feeling better both physically and mentally, it’s well worth the expense.
So while people might think happiness comes from riches, leisure time and a life of luxury, the best data we have suggests these aren’t the things that make us happy over the long haul. What does? Work that lets you move toward goals you think are meaningful – purposeful work. Other things that influence happiness – religion, having family and friends you care about who care about you, giving to others and, last but not least, money. But only if you’re desperately poor, once you don’t have to worry about well being anymore, more money doesn’t make you any happier. Lottery winners report that a year after the win, they were really no happier than before.
To your good health,