In detail

Do you worry a lot? Character vs. Intelligence

Do you worry a lot? Character vs. Intelligence

It has been several years since psychologist and professor Mihály Csiakszentmihályi He conducted interviews with 91 people qualified as "very intelligent" or even as "geniuses" of different disciplines, including 14 Nobel Prizes, in order to prepare his book Creativity (Paidós, 2008), and apparently he could see that those who stood out in terms of creativity, also used to be more lonely, sacrificed and less happy people. Recently, in 2014 a new study has been carried out that corroborates in some way the conclusions reached by Csikszentmihalyi in its day.

Apparently, people who care more about everything around them, and which, in turn, has a greater propensity to suffer from depression and anxiety, has been shown to be more intelligent, at least as far as the verbal area is concerned. Previous research had already shown that anxiety and depression symptoms are negatively associated with superior intelligence measures. But the most recent study on this subject has been directed by Alexander Penney of Lakehead University in Ontario. To do this, they gathered 125 students who performed a series of tests that measured their levels of depression, shyness and verbal intelligence; such as his vocabulary richness, his ability to categorize words and his ability to understand proverbs. The students also had to fill in a questionnaire that measured their level of concern. Interestingly, those students who admitted to being always worried tended to get higher scores on the verbal intelligence test.

The fault is of evolution

According to the researchers, the ability to worry about the environment has been a very useful tool for our ancestors, as it provided them with extra time to anticipate potential threats. As they explain in the conclusions of the study: "From an evolutionary point of view, the costs of worrying about a threat that finally does not occur are lower than those that have failed to draw up a plan to avoid a threat that does materialize ". Unfortunately, the price that human beings must pay for being intelligent is high, and is accompanied, among other things, by a greater tendency to suffer from depression, which was another of the significant relationships indicated in the study.

The study also revealed that people with greater verbal intelligence have a greater ability to remember past events and, therefore, to worry about them and what would have happened if they had acted differently. Instead, students with greater difficulties to remember details of past events, obtained a higher score in nonverbal intelligence tests, such as solving puzzles, logical problems and abstract reasoning. So that, those people with greater ability to observe the present, are better at solving problems on the fly and do not care so much about the future, so they have a lower tendency to suffer from depression, although this leads to a lower ability to anticipate threats, as well as less verbal intelligence. From this study, then, one can observe the connections that exist between intelligence and the cognitive processes that underlie emotional disorders.