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Smarter People Tend To Drink More Alcohol

Smarter People Tend To Drink More Alcohol

Why drinking would attract intelligent people.


According to the social scientist John Mayer, from Western Reserve University, people with a higher IQ drink more alcohol than the average person. He published a research article about his findings in the journal Review of General Psychology. The study was conducted on a group of 1500 volunteers (regular drinker and not), that were tested on intellectual performance. Surprisingly, those who scored a higher result here were often those who were more addicted to alcohol.

Researcher John Mayer thinks it has to do with smarter people tending to have more evolutionarily novel experiences: experiences we are not biologically designed to have.  The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis suggests that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values than less intelligent individuals. Consumption of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs is evolutionarily novel, so the Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis would predict that more intelligent individuals are more likely to consume these substances.

Apart from Mayer’s findings, analyses of two large, nationally representative, and prospectively longitudinal data from the United Kingdom and the United States partly also support this prediction. More intelligent children, both in the United Kingdom and the United States, were found likely to grow up to consume more alcohol. At the same time more intelligent American children were found to consume generally more tobacco, and more intelligent British children seemed more likely start using illegal drugs.

Despite the associations found, it is still very difficult to make statements about this complex subject. The origin of individual preferences and values is one of the main theoretical questions in social and behavioral sciences that we haven’t yet found all the anwers to, if we ever will.


Photo: Flickr, Nora**

Source: Psychology Today

Mayer, J.D., Lin, S. C. & Korogodsky, M. (2011). Exploring the universality of personality judgments: Evidence from the Great Transformation Review of General Psychology DOI: 10.1037/a0020711


Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, alcohol, intelligence, IQ, smart, evolutionarily novel, drugs, tobacco

Simone Munao

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