Worrying may have a positive side

Worrying may have a positive side

Is there a positive side to worrying? According to a recent study, worrying can be a sign of intelligence. A team at Lakehead University in Ontario surveyed 126 undergrads with questions to measure their intelligence as well as their anxiety level. The results pointed to a strong correlation between worrying and intelligence.

The research showed that verbally intelligent people may be more likely to think of past and future events in greater detail, leading to more anxiety.  On the other hand, those with a high non-verbal intelligence may be better at processing non-verbal social signals and tend to worry less.

“The study suggests that some anxiety may be part of being a high achiever,” according to Dr. Andrew Gordon, a neurologist at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington. “It makes sense that highly intelligent people may worry more because they are able to digest more information and see multiple sides of a particular issue.”

While this may be good news for incessant worriers, Dr. Gordon cautions that most research has actually found a negative correlation between anxiety, intelligence and performance. Some studies have also found that health problems can result from excessive anxiety.

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  1. Judith A. Carlson March 13, 2015 at 12:10 pm · Reply

    Then if that’s true I must be one of the world’s most intelligent people! I worry about my health, my partner, my finances, my kids and grandkids and great-grandkids… Not a day goes by that I’m not worrying about something! Good grief – from a sample of 126 people they think they’ve possibly refuted studies that have been replicated for decades? What a joke!

  2. This article is trash. 126 undergraduate STUDENTS is hardly a widespread sample!!

  3. Jay — It is a small sample size, but that doesn’t mean its results are totally useless or that they won’t inform and inspire further research.

    Not all research can be a double-blind RCT with 10,000 participants. New ideas always have to start somewhere. And this is an interesting result that I’d certainly enjoy hearing more about after more robust research.

  4. The sample was totally undergrads. So, the results can only be applied to undergrads. They are primarily in a closed environment. To generalize results, there needs to be a sample from working adults of different backgrounds, i.e. a more randomized sample.

  5. There is little more to say about this than there is a correlation. Nothing more, nothing less. I think the headline is misleading. Thinking that it is reassuring to think that one is intelligent because one worries does not reassure me at all. If I am so smart, why haven’t I fixed the problems that caused the anxiety in the first place?

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.