There’s some bad news for people in the right tail of the IQ bell curve. In a study just published in the journal Intelligence, Pitzer College researcher Ruth Karpinski and her colleagues emailed a survey with questions about psychological and physiological disorders to members of Mensa. A “high IQ society”, Mensa requires that its members have an IQ in the top two percent. For most intelligence tests, this corresponds to an IQ of about 132 or higher. (The average IQ of the general population is 100.) The survey of Mensa’s highly intelligent members found that they were more likely to suffer from a range of serious disorders.
The survey covered mood disorders (depression, dysthymia, and bipolar), anxiety disorders (generalized, social, and obsessive-compulsive), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism.
The results of this study must be interpreted cautiously because they are correlational. Showing that a disorder is more common in a sample of people with high IQs than in the general population doesn’t prove that high intelligence is the cause of the disorder. It’s also possible that people who join Mensa differ from other people in ways other than just IQ. For example, people preoccupied with intellectual pursuits may spend less time than the average person on physical exercise and social interaction, both of which have been shown to have broad benefits for psychological and physical health.
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