Science: How intelligence and personality affect longevity

interns Contributor
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Beware jocks and mean girls: you may be more popular in high school, but according to a new academic paper, it is the smart kids and conscientious glee-club types who will live longer. Not only that, they will suffer fewer diseases before they die. Only the good die young? Guess again.

The paper, which was published recently in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest, summarizes data from millions of people studied in dozens of academic articles. The bottom line is that people who are smarter and more conscientious acquire fewer illnesses and die later than those who have the opposite traits.

How these relationships work is wildly complicated, but one of the simplest associations is between intelligence and health: smarter people are more adept at avoiding accidents, and they are more likely to understand public-health campaigns against smoking or drug abuse. Studies typically show that by middle age, there is a reliable correlation between low IQ and rate of hospital admission, even when researchers control for socioeconomic differences.

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