More height means higher IQ, finds Scottish study

The world's tallest man, Sultan Kösen, stands 8 ft 1 in tall. Picture: GettyThe world's tallest man, Sultan Kösen, stands 8 ft 1 in tall. Picture: Getty
The world's tallest man, Sultan Kösen, stands 8 ft 1 in tall. Picture: Getty
SCOTTISH researchers have claimed that shorter people are more likely to have a lower IQ than their taller counterparts.

Scientists at Edinburgh University identified genes which influence both height and intelligence.

In a joint study with Aberdeen University and University College London, the academics found that people who are shorter than average are more likely to have lower IQs than people who are taller.

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The findings were based on data compiled on thousands of people recruited over a five-year period for the Scottish Family Health Study.

Intelligence was determined by a number of tests that measured linguistic ability, reaction times and power of recall.

The average height of men in the UK is 5ft 9in, while it is 5ft 3in for women.

Among prominent figures who look to prove the theory are Prime Minister David Cameron who is 6ft 1in and QI host Stephen Fry who is 6ft 4in. Actress Kate Beckinsale, who is 5ft 6in, is fluent in Russian and French, and studied at Oxford University.

Unlike previous studies, academics analysed DNA markers in more than 6,800 unrelated people from 2006 to 2011. In the past researchers had only conducted similar studies comparing family members.

The study concluded that 70 per cent of the link between height and IQ could be explained by genetics, while the remaining 30 per cent was down to environmental factors.

In the past it has been claimed that shorter people are more likely to be jealous lovers, have poor mental health and could be more prone to paranoia.

Scientists now believe that understanding genetic links between intelligence and height could help predict an individual’s health problems.

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Previous studies have linked short stature to a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.

Riccardo Marioni, from Edinburgh University’s Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine said: “What we found was a small association between height and intelligence such that people who are taller tend to be smarter.

“We tested whether DNA-based genetic similarities among people related to their similarities in height and intelligence. Previous studies have used twin or family data to examine similarities between height and intelligence, whereas ours was the first to examine this using DNA markers in unrelated people.”

In a paper submitted to the Behaviour Genetics journal, the team said: “We found a moderate and statistically significant genetic correlation between height and general intelligence.”

The link between height and intelligence has been explored by scientists for a number of years, but the reasons for the relationship remained unclear.

Previous suggestions have included the fact that both height and intelligence may be indicators of underlying good health. Under this theory people who are genetically and developmentally healthier become taller and more intelligent than those who are less healthy. Other researchers who took the health of participants into account still found a link between being taller and increased intelligence.

Research in 2006 at Princeton University in the United States found even as early as the age of three, taller children performed better in mental tests.

Last year experts at the University of Colorado suggested that clever people were more likely to choose taller people as partners, and vice versa.

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And researchers at St Andrews and Stirling University have claimed that shorter women are more likely to start a family than focus on their career.

However, it is not all bad news for shorter people, as they may live longer due to factors such as lower damage to their DNA and the heart being more efficient at pumping blood.