- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

Attention brainiacs, straight-A students, know-it-alls: Sense does not always guarantee cents, according to a study from Ohio State University.

“People don’t become rich just because they are smart. Your IQ has really no relationship to your wealth. And being very smart does not protect you from getting into financial difficulty,” said lead author Jay Zagorsky, a scientist at the school’s Center for Human Resource Research.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to make a lot of money,” the study said, revealing that folks of below-average intelligence were, overall, just about as wealthy as their brainy counterparts.

Some of our best and brightest are clueless about finances.

“Just because you’re smart doesn’t mean you don’t get into trouble. Among the smartest people, those with IQ scores above 125, even 6 percent of them have maxed out their credit cards and 11 percent miss payments,” Mr. Zagorsky said.

He recommended a little anecdotal evidence.

“Professors tend to be very smart people,” Mr. Zagorsky said. “But if you look at university parking lots, you don’t see a lot of Rolls Royces, Porsches or other expensive cars. Instead you see a lot of old, low-value vehicles.”

The study is based on data from 7,403 Americans who responded in the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, a project funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The ongoing survey, begun in 1979, has followed the same group of people into middle age, recording their financial patterns, income, general aptitude and other factors.

Mr. Zagorsky’s study found that smarter people start out with more money but don’t always handle it well. People with higher IQ scores statistically tend to earn higher incomes. Each point on the intelligence scale translates into an extra $202 to $616 more income per year. In comparing total overall wealth and the occurrence of financial difficulties, however, the study found that average and even below-average people were right on par with the “super-intelligent.”

Even Mr. Zagorsky is puzzled by this phenomenon, though he theorized that big thinkers may not save as much others.

“Intelligence is not a factor for explaining wealth. Those with low intelligence should not believe they are handicapped, and those with high intelligence should not believe they have an advantage,” Mr. Zagorsky said.

Others have found that intellect has its downsides.

Sian Beilock, a psychologist at Miami University of Ohio, found in a 2005 study that “smart people choke under pressure” because their memories get bogged down with worry when the chips are down. An analysis by the Scientific American had another revelation, stating, “Smart people believe weird things.”

Using data from the National Science Foundation’s 2002 Biennial Report on the national state of scientific understanding, the analysis found that among college graduates, 60 percent believed in extra-sensory perception, 55 percent believed in the healing power of magnets and 92 percent embraced “alternative medicine.” The numbers were about the same among high school graduates, the study found.

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