"The findings imply that IQ is an important determinant of health and mortality risk independently of many well-established health risk factors," Jokela said. "This calls for new lines of research identifying the mechanisms by which IQ becomes associated with health and mortality risk."
Perhaps individuals with high IQ are better at distilling important health information from public health messages and thereby better in making healthy everyday choices that are not captured by the usual measures of health behaviors, Jokela said.
"We currently have an incomplete understanding of health inequalities originating from individual psychological characteristics, such as IQ," he said. "Identifying these mechanisms could inform us how to plan more effective public health interventions accessible to wider audiences."
Ellen deLara, an assistant professor of social work at Syracuse University, thinks that nurturing parents may be the key to living longer, regardless of IQ.
"Positive adult/parental attention is typically a contributor to positive youth outcomes in terms of development and behavior," deLara said. "This applies across the board to all youth, all socioeconomic groups, all levels of intelligence."
Conversely, negative adult attention in the form of rejection or neglect, for example -- something that some parents exhibit towards lower IQ children -- is associated with poor outcomes for these children in terms of their development, and their childhood and adult behavior, she said.
"What it boils down to is, no matter your IQ, if you feel accepted -- your parents are interested in your education and your future -- you thrive," deLara said.
"If you feel that you are rejected -- your parents show little or no interest in you or your future -- you don't feel good about yourself," she
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