Many people believe that unintelligent people tend to be happier than other people; as the popular saying goes, “ignorance is this”. However, scientific research reveals that this is not really the case, but rather happiness is often associated with a higher IQ or CI. However, as we will see, this relationship is not straightforward.
In this article we will analyze the relationship between happiness and intelligence, Mainly understood as CI. With this goal in mind, we will first stop to define the constructs “intelligence” and “happiness”, which are confusing and ambiguous from a scientific and research point of view.
Definition of intelligence
The American Psychological Association (Neisser et al., 1996) stated that each person has a different conception of intelligence, although some common characteristics are found among the definitions of expert psychologists in this subject.
Intelligence could be described as a set of skills that allow us to learn from experience, to understand complex ideas, Reasoning, problem solving and adapting to the environment. It is not a unique or completely stable quality, but its value in a given individual depends on the traits to be measured and the time frame.
A striking definition of intelligence is operational, according to which the most appropriate way to describe this concept is “What is measured by CI tests”. These tests assess skills such as spatial reasoning or processing speed and give a numerical result with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation of 15.
However, these tests tend to overlook other aspects of intelligence that many people, experts and laymen alike, consider to be just as fundamental. In this sense, emotional, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills stand out, which have a significant weight in happiness.
Happiness, well-being and quality of life
Happiness is extremely difficult to define, possibly even more so than intelligence. There is not even agreement on whether it is a global state or rather a type of one-off experience; this may be because the factors that determine personal satisfaction depend on each individual.
However, we can say that this term it is associated with positive emotions, from satisfaction to intense joy, As well as with personal development. In the scientific context, he generally prefers the use of other more specific constructs instead of “happiness”. These alternative concepts include well-being and quality of life.
The concept of well-being particularly focuses on physical and psychological health, Although when this variable is defined in a technical context, a social dimension and another of personal development are generally included in the set of characteristics that compose it.
The quality of life can be understood in an even broader way. In this case, the additional facets include education level, economic status, family relationships and many other characteristics of the environment.
The relationship between intelligence and happiness
According to the analysis carried out by Ali’s team (2013) on a sample of 6,870 people from England, people with a low or normal-low IQ (between 70 and 99) tend to be less happy that this intelligence exceeds the average, that is to say 100. This relationship is mediated by the level of income, physical and psychological health and daily activities.
These results are supplemented by those obtained by Kern and Friedman (2008), who carried out a longitudinal study analyzing a thousand people since childhood. His research found less happiness and social adjustment in adulthood in people who had achieved greater academic achievement in the early stages of life.
Veenhoven and Choi (2012) draw an interesting conclusion from their meta-analysis on the relationship between intelligence and happiness in the world: a high national CI is associated with greater satisfaction in people living in a given country. However, they do not find that intelligence influences happiness from an individual point of view.
In this regard, different authors conclude that people with low IQs are more likely to be consequence of situations of socio-economic disadvantage and not directly because of their level of intelligence. These conditions also cause a decrease in average mental and physical health.
On the other hand, research such as that of Bai and Niazi (2014) or that of Aminpoor (2013) find that emotional and interpersonal intelligence positively influence in life satisfaction. The skills that are built into these constructs, such as self-awareness and self-esteem, are strongly associated with what we call “happiness”.
- Ali, A., Ambler, G., Strydom, A., Rai, D., Cooper, C., McManus, S., Weich, S., Meltzer, H., Dein, S. & Hassiotis, A. ( 2013). The relationship between happiness and IQ: the contribution of clinical and socio-economic factors. Psychological Medicine, 43 (6): 1303-12.
- Aminpoor, H. (2013). Relationship between social intelligence and happiness among students at Payame Noor University. Annals of Biological Research, 4 (5): 165-168.
- Bai, N. and Niazi, SM (2014). The relationship between emotional intelligence and happiness in academic champions (case study: Jiroft University). European Journal of Experimental Biology, 4 (1): 587-590.
- Kern, ML and Friedman, HS (2008). Early Educational Milestones as Predictors of Lifelong Educational Achievement, Average Age Adjustment, and Longevity Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 30 (4): 419-430.
- Neisser, U., Boodoo, G., Bouchard, TJ, Boykin, AW, Brody, N., Cela, SJ, Halpern, DF, Loehlin, JC, Perloff, R., Sternberg, RJ and Urbina, S. (1996 ). Intelligence: known and unknown. American Psychologist, 51 (2): 77.
- Veenhoven, R. and Choi, Y. (2012). Does Intelligence Increase Happiness? Everyone’s intelligence pays more than being smarter than others. International Journal of Happiness and Development, 1 (1): 5-27.