Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Relative Verbal Intelligence and Happiness

Nikolaev, Boris and McGee, Jennifer (2016): Relative Verbal Intelligence and Happiness. Published in: Intelligence , Vol. 59, (December 2016): pp. 1-7.

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Abstract

Even though higher intelligence (IQ) is often associated with many positive outcomes in life, it has become a stylized fact in the happiness literature that smarter people are not happier than their less intelligent counterparts. In this paper, we examine how relative verbal intelligence correlates with happiness and present two main findings. First, our estimations from the General Social Survey for a large representative sample of Americans suggest a small, but positive and significant correlation between verbal intelligence and happiness. Second, we find that verbal intelligence has a strong positional effect on happiness, i.e., people who have greater verbal proficiency relative to their peers in their reference group are more likely to report higher levels of happiness. The positional effect of happiness holds even when we control for a large set of socio-economic characteristics as well as relative income.

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