Study finds genetic link between height and IQ

March 5, 2014 by Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress report

A team of researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland has found a correlation between genes associated with height and those associated with intelligence. In their paper published in the journal Behavior Genetics, the group describes how they studied the DNA of 6,815 unrelated people and discovered what they describe as a direct correlation between height and intelligence—taller people are smarter, they say.

While the team's study results are likely to cause quite a stir, particularly among those lower in physical stature, it does add to a growing body of research that suggests there are physical, mental and in some cases emotional differences between people related to body size (both and girth). In this effort, the team used data obtained from Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study—where both medical tests and mental aptitude were tested— was measured via four basic metrics: mental reaction times, linguistic ability, processing speed and powers of recall.

In analyzing data from the study, the team found what they describe as a "significant genetic correlation" between IQ and height—between taller and shorter people. Those that were shorter were on average, found to be slightly less intelligent than their taller counterparts. It's important to note that the researchers are not suggesting that all short people are less intelligent, or that all tall people are more intelligent. Instead they are pointing out averages across a population. Also important to note is that the Family Health Study did not use standard IQ tests to measure intelligence.

The research team also claim that 70 percent of the genetic differences they found regarding IQ and height could be attributed to genetic factors—the rest could be chalked up to environment.

Other studies have found that there exists different health risks for people of different heights—some have found that shorter people, for example, are more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, while taller people tend to die younger than shorter people. Studies that have looked for intelligence differences based on height, however, have been few and far between. The researchers in Scotland point out that prior studies have relied mainly on testing people related to one another—theirs, they claim, is the first study to measure people who are completely unrelated.

Explore further: Shorter woman, taller man: Preferences for partner height translate into actual partner choices

More information: Behavior Genetics March 2014, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 91-96. DOI: 10.1007/s10519-014-9644-z

Related Stories

Shorter woman, taller man: Preferences for partner height translate into actual partner choices

January 16, 2013
Finding Mr. or Ms. Right is a complicated process, and choosing a mate may involve compromising on less important factors like their height. However, research published January 16 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Gert ...

Study relies on twins and their parents to understand height-IQ connection

August 27, 2013
The fact that taller people also tend to be slightly smarter is due in roughly equal parts to two phenomena—the same genes affect both traits and taller people are more likely than average to mate with smarter people and ...

Researchers suggest Victorian-era people more intelligent than modern-day counterparts

May 17, 2013
(Phys.org) —In a new study, a European research team suggests that the average intelligence level of Victorian-era people was higher than that of modern-day people. They base their controversial assertion on reaction times ...

Predicting human body height from DNA

November 20, 2013
Predicting adult body height from genetic data is helpful in several areas such as pediatric endocrinology and forensic investigations. However, despite large international efforts to catalogue the genes that influence the ...

Research shows correlation between adult height and underlying heart disease

December 12, 2013
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation research cardiologist Dr. Michael Miedema is the lead author of a paper published by Circulation – Cardiovascular Imaging, a journal of the American Heart Association, that suggests ...

Recommended for you

Researchers identify new genetic disorder

September 21, 2018
Researchers from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine and physicians from Spectrum Health have identified for the first time in a human patient a genetic disorder only previously described in animal models.

Test could detect patients at risk from lethal fungal spores

September 20, 2018
Scientists at The University of Manchester have discovered a genetic mutation in humans linked to a 17-fold increase in the amount of dangerous fungal spores in the lungs.

Researchers identify a new cause of childhood mitochondrial disease

September 20, 2018
A rapid genetic test developed by Newcastle researchers has identified the first patients with inherited mutations in a new disease gene.

Why some human genes are more popular with researchers than others

September 18, 2018
Historical bias is a key reason why biomedical researchers continue to study the same 10 percent of all human genes while ignoring many genes known to play roles in disease, according to a study publishing September 18 in ...

Class of neurological disorders share 3-D genome folding pattern, study finds

September 18, 2018
In a class of roughly 30 neurological disorders that includes ALS, Huntington's Disease and Fragile X Syndrome, the relevant mutant gene features sections of repeating base pair sequences known as short tandem repeats, or ...

Researchers resolve decades-old mystery about the most commonly mutated gene in cancer

September 18, 2018
The most commonly mutated gene in cancer has tantalized scientists for decades about the message of its mutations. Although mutations can occur at more than 1,100 sites within the TP53 gene, they arise with greatest frequency ...

7 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Anonym
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2014
Finally, a sound statistically based study that accounts for the widespread observation that professional basketball players are just plain smarter than the rest of us.
dedereu
5 / 5 (3) Mar 05, 2014
"a moderate and statistically significant genetic correlation between height and general intelligence,
the phenotypic correlation between these measures was small (~0.16)"
it is not very significant.
RobertKarlStonjek
3 / 5 (4) Mar 05, 2014
Albert Einstein, 5 feet 9
Sir Isaac Newton, 5 feet 6
mathari
3.5 / 5 (4) Mar 06, 2014
This is absolute nonsense. This study belongs in Star magazine not in a medical publication.
Returners
5 / 5 (2) Mar 08, 2014
Albert Einstein, 5 feet 9
Sir Isaac Newton, 5 feet 6


Me: 5 feet 10.

If only this research were true.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) Mar 09, 2014
Finally, a sound statistically based study that accounts for the widespread observation that professional basketball players are just plain smarter than the rest of us.


Albert Einstein, 5 feet 9
Sir Isaac Newton, 5 feet 6


Correlation is not causation. Learn the difference.
marko
1 / 5 (1) Mar 09, 2014
It would make some sense that people with bigger brains have greater intellectual potential.

Taller people would correlate with bigger heads.

As for Newton and Einstein, we need to factor in the heights of typical persons in their eras due to nutrition. People were smaller in the past.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.