Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More Intelligent People Are More Likely to Binge Drink and Get Drunk

by Satoshi Kanazawa

Not only are more intelligent individuals more likely to consume more alcohol more frequently, they are more likely to engage in binge drinking and to get drunk.

In an earlier post, I show that, consistent with the prediction of the Hypothesis, more intelligent individuals consume larger quantities of alcohol more frequently than less intelligent individuals. The data presented in the post come from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom. The NCDS measures the respondents’ general intelligence before the age of 16, and then tracks the quantity and frequency of alcohol consumption throughout their adulthood in their 20s, 30s, and 40s. The graphs presented in the post show a clear monotonic association between childhood general intelligence and both the frequency and the quantity of adult alcohol consumption. The more intelligent they are in childhood, the more and the more frequently they consume alcohol in their adulthood.
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There are occasional medical reports and scientific studies which tout the health benefits of mild alcohol consumption, such as drinking a glass of red wine with dinner every night. So it may be tempting to conclude that more intelligent individuals are more likely to engage in such mild alcohol consumption than less intelligent individuals, and the positive association between childhood general intelligence and adult alcohol consumption reflects such mild, and thus healthy and beneficial, alcohol consumption.

Unfortunately for the intelligent individuals, this is not the case. More intelligent children are more likely to grow up to engage in binge drinking (consuming five or more units of alcohol in one sitting) and getting drunk.

The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) asks its respondents specific questions about binge drinking and getting drunk. For binge drinking, Add Health asks: “During the past 12 months, on how many days did you drink five or more drinks in a row?” For getting drunk, it asks: “During the past 12 months, on how many days have you been drunk or very high on alcohol?” For both questions, the respondents can answer on a six-point ordinal scale: 0 = none, 1 = 1 or 2 days in the past 12 months, 2 = once a month or less (3 to 12 times in the past 12 months), 3 = 2 or 3 days a month, 4 = 1 or 2 days a week, 5 = 3 to 5 days a week, 6 = every day or almost every day.

As you can see in the following graph, there is a clear monotonic positive association between childhood intelligence and adult frequency of binge drinking. “Very dull” Add Health respondents (with childhood IQ < 75) engage in binge drinking less than once a year. In sharp contrast, “very bright” Add Health respondents (with childhood IQ > 125) engage in binge drinking roughly once every other month.

The association between childhood intelligence and adult frequency of getting drunk is equally clear and monotonic, as you can see in the following graph. “Very dull” Add Health respondents almost never get drunk, whereas “very bright” Add Health respondents get drunk once every other month or so.

In a multiple ordinal regression, childhood intelligence has a significant (ps < .00001) effect on adult frequency of both binge drinking and getting drunk, controlling for age, sex, race, ethnicity, religion, marital status, parental status, education, earnings, political attitudes, religiosity, general satisfaction with life, taking medication for stress, experience of stress without taking medication, frequency of socialization with friends, number of sex partners in the last 12 months, childhood family income, mother’s education, and father’s education. I honestly cannot think of any other variable that might be correlated with childhood intelligence than those already controlled for in the multiple regression analyses. It is very likely that it is childhood intelligence itself, and not anything else that is confounded with it, which increases the adult frequency of binge drinking and getting drunk.

Note that education is controlled for in the ordinal multiple regression analysis. Given that Add Health respondents in Wave III (when the dependent measures are taken) are in their early 20s, it may be tempting to conclude that the association between childhood intelligence and adult frequency of binge drinking and getting drunk is mediated by college attendance. More intelligent children are more likely to go to college, and college students are more likely to engage in binge drinking and get drunk. The significant partial effect of childhood intelligence on the adult frequency of binge drinking and getting drunk, net of education, shows that this indeed is not the case. It is childhood intelligence itself, not education, which increases the adult frequency of binge drinking and getting drunk.

In fact, in both equations, education does not have a significant effect on binge drinking and getting drunk. Net of all the other variables included in the ordinal multiple regression equations, education is not significantly correlated with the frequency of binge drinking and getting drunk. Among other things, it means that college students are more likely to engage in binge drinking, not because they are in college, but because they are more intelligent.

(http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201102/more-intelligent-people-are-more-likely-binge-drink-and-ge)

23 comments:

  1. soo that's why im always drunk, could be that or my drunken mates that are also always with beer hahah

    nice info tho

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  2. I have heard this before, but never seen solid proof of it. But it does explain things, I was always the kid they said was going to grow up to help cure cancer, and now enjoy getting drunk. But my concern is, this is a study done in the UK, how does that culturally cross over? Would it even apply to us Americans or Asian countries? Some of these places have entirely different intelligence standards and drinking stigmata.

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  3. Interesting. I have a college professor that also said there is a positive correlation between GPA and pot use. But, he didn't know which was the controller, the GPA, or the pot use.

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  4. Particularly interesting that it appears dependant on intelligence not education - the college/university argument would have definitely been what I'd go for.

    Stands to reason though. People on my course work hard but party harder. Standard!

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  5. ^^I believe that may be a situation where correlation does not equal causation

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  6. I quite like binge drinking though I would say I'm as dumb as a rock. sigh...if only I can afford to do it more often, and have more friends to do it with.

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  7. i could not agree more. i attended a rehab thing and the more successful ppl at that thing had the most serious problems.

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  8. wow, that was interesting, thanks for sharing

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  9. The harder classes I took, the more I drank.

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  10. lol must be why I've got all these bottles of spirits in my room :P

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  11. More intelligent people see the world for what it is and therefore need to be inebriated more. My theory, anyway.

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  12. I can personally attest to this post, haha. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. I think heavy drinking sessions are becoming a luxury many can't afford. Perhaps a silly argument but I'd assume the higher the intellect the better their job pays, and thus have the dosh to buy more drink. I know if I had more spare cash I'd endulge more often.

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  14. damn i found a new excuse thanks XD

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  15. this explains why Im so intelligent!

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  16. I can agree to this from my personal experience. More intelligent people have a better understanding on how fucked the world is leading to more drinking.

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  17. but i see stupid people drinking all the time

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  18. ah yes, my one friend binged and paid heavily for it. He's smart as hell too. The story was pretty funny though.

    not eating + vodka + mcdonalds = funny story

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  19. Does that mean that I'm intelligent? lol

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