November 1, 2012

Drink Beer, Get Smart

Well, not exactly. More like already smart, drink more beer. It’s a strange phenomenon.

The next time you go for that last beer, consider this: childhood intelligence and adult alcohol consumption are positively correlated, according to a recent from data from the National Child Development Study in the United Kingdom and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health in the United States.

Who knew?

We all know alcohol can be very dangerous, and really isn’t for everyone. (You know who I’m talking about; I’m sure you’ve got one of those friends) Popular culture even often portrays drinkers as unproductive losers, insignificant average Joes, or in the most positive portrayals, sexually driven alpha males that “Win” like Charlie Sheen and pump fists with the best of ‘em.

Ironically, according to the studies none of those scenarios are necessarily the case.

The study measured childhood intelligence before the age of 16, and was categorized in five cognitive classes, spanning from “very dull,” “dull,” “normal,” “bright” to “very bright.”

The subjects were revisited in their adult years to see how much, and how often, they consumed alcohol. The Americans from the study were revisited 7 years later, their British counter parts on the other hand, were revisited in their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. Researchers continued to monitor the subjects as they grew older.

What they found will probably be a surprise to you; the smart kids were the ones doing all the boozing!

More intelligent children in both studies grew up to drink alcohol more frequently and in greater quantities than less intelligent children. In the Brits’ case, “very bright” children grew up to consume nearly eight-tenths of a standard deviation more alcohol than their “very dull” cohorts.

Researchers controlled for demographic variables — such as marital status, parents’ education, earnings, childhood social class and more — that may have also affected adult drinking. Still, the findings held true: Smarter kids were drinking more as adults.”

The next question is, why?

Well they’ve yet to research that far as of now, but let’s take a guess.

Maybe it’s because the brighter children are more social, therefore they participate in more social gatherings that may have libations as part of the gathering. To take that same guess a little further, the brighter children may have been more likely to attend college at a university, which is definitely known for being booze filled. (Although there are some exceptions to that.)

Looking at the other side of the coin, maybe the people deemed as brighter are less challenged throughout their lives, and turn to alcohol to ease their boredom in a dumbed-down world.

I’m no scientist, and that’s obvious, but these are just a few things that come to my mind. The jury is still out on why, and I’m sure there will be some results to come soon.

In a nutshell though, smart kids drink more as adults, but (disclaimer) this blog is by no means an advocacy for alcoholism. I’m a firm believer that having two or three beers during the ball game is way different than killing a case or doing keg stands and beer bongs.

If you’re already a dummy, drinking will not make you smarter, (I promise) and being an alcoholic doesn’t necessarily mean you were a kid genius.

Image Credit: Valentyn Volkov / Shutterstock

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