Impact of Childhood Intelligence and Economic Status on Adult Well-Being

Many individuals with psychological problems such as substance misuse, anxiety, attachment issues, and even posttraumatic stress, can trace the cause of their issues back to events or conditions in their childhoods. Suffering the death of a parent, being the victim of childhood sexual abuse, or experiencing severe neglect and maltreatment may be indications that could indeed explain later psychological maladjustment.

Some research has even suggested that socioeconomic disadvantage in childhood can be a pathway for adult psychological illness. And intelligence has also been considered to influence mental well-being. But until now, no study has examined the direct and indirect effects of childhood intelligence and economic status on adult psychological adjustment.

Sophie von Stumm of the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths University in London wanted to find out if children with high intelligence and higher family incomes actually had better psychological outcomes in adulthood when compared to less advantaged, less intelligent children. Stumm conducted an analysis of data collected from 12,500 birth records of people born between 1950 and 1956. The individuals completed census questionnaires when they were in their late 40s.

Stumm evaluated the data and found that contrary to some existing research, childhood intelligence and economic status did not directly impact adult psychological well-being. However, socioeconomic status in early adulthood did affect later well-being for the adults Stumm evaluated.

This finding shows that even though some children may be more intellectually and economically advantaged than others, those advantages only indirectly affect later psychological adjustment. For instance, smarter, wealthier children may have more opportunities to pursue higher education and attain high-paying jobs, thus putting them in better socioeconomic positions in early adulthood. It is during this young adult phase that economic status seems to affect middle-aged psychological adjustment the most.

Stumm said, “Childhood intelligence and SES and education influence psychological distress at midlife indirectly through their association with adult SES.” However, the research clearly shows that not all children from disadvantaged environments will experience psychological maladjustment in mid-life, and in the same way, not all advantaged children can expect to have positive psychological outcomes.

Reference:
Von Stumm, S., Deary, I.J., Hagger-Johnson, G. (2013). Life-course pathways to psychological distress: A Cohort Study. BMJ Open 2013;3:e002772. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-002772

© Copyright 2013 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • 1 comment
  • Leave a Comment
  • Dakota

    June 20th, 2013 at 4:14 AM

    There are many kids, though, who have seemingly had it all when they were growing up, who then choose to squander it away. Why does that happen? I would guess that the biggest reason is that they never had to work too gard at anything. Most of their lives they were given everything and things came easy to them. Not only did they naturally do well in school, but they also had the advantages of having money, the right clothes, the right friemds, etc. You would think that if anyone was going to make it, then it would be them. But them they come back and surprise you and end up doing very little with the advantages that they have had. They are only mediocre in life, leaving you to presume that it is better to have to work for it then to always have it given to you.

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of GoodTherapy.org's Terms and Conditions of Use.

2 Z k A

 

 

* Indicates required field

Advanced Search

Search Our Blog

Title   Content   Author

Recent Comments

  • Dhyan Summers: Yes Sen, I know exactly how you feel. There can be a sense of hopelessness when you begin to realize the extent of the hurt and...
  • Betty: Thank you for sharing your story. My stepdaughter lost her mom at 5 yo and I became a stepmom when she was 7yo. I love and care for her the...
  • mary: I lost my husband June 1, 2016. We were married 44 years and knew each other 46 years. He didn’t die from cancer, but the cancer caused...
  • Carolyn: My daughter just eliminated us from her life because her therapist and she decided we (my husband and I) were two of many trigger points...
  • Marsha: Great reminders for both the seasoned therapist and the beginner. Curiosity should always be respectful and the focus should be what the...
GoodTherapy.org is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on GoodTherapy.org.