IQ not the key to a happy life
By Adam Cresswell, Health editor
July 16, 2005
MONEY can't buy you happiness, and now it seems brains can't either. Researchers say clever people are no more likely to be happy in their old age than anybody else. In a boost for exam-flunkers everywhere, a study published yesterday in the British Medical Journal found the levels of satisfaction with life recorded by 550 Scottish men and women aged 84-85 were unaffected by their mental abilities, either when they were young or much later.
The authors said the findings were contrary to previous thinking that "cognitive vitality" was important in maintaining a good quality of life in old age. A link between happiness and intelligence "might have been expected" because of the high value society placed on cleverness. The lack of such an association might be because smarter people were more likely to be aware of alternative lifestyles, or to have higher expectations or aspirations, the authors suggested.
The study group, all born in Lothian, Scotland, in 1921, were remarkable for the fact they had all undergone tests of mental ability when they were about 11 years old, and the records had been preserved. The tests were repeated a few years ago, when they were about 79. They each ranked their happiness on a scientifically validated satisfaction scale.
Ian Hickie, executive director of the Brain and Mind Research Institute at Sydney University, said it was fashionable among neurologists to think that individual brain characteristics could influence happiness. However, the quality of social networks was likely to play a far bigger role, he said. "People value you more for your contribution, rather than whether you are smart," he said.
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