Trustworthy people are smarter, healthier

By Morgan Sherburne • Published: June 18th, 2014
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Do you tend to trust people easily? Do you have one of those wide-eyed, open faces that your family suggests you don’t take out into the cruel, cruel world?

Don’t beat yourself up. Turns out, you might be smarter and healthier than your non-trusting counterparts.

A team of researchers from the University of Oxford examined data from a survey called the General Social Survey. The survey polls a selection of United States adults about their socioeconomic characteristics, marital status, behaviors and social attitudes.

Typically, this data is used to assess intelligence and trust separately. But the group of scientists from the University of Oxford used the data to assess how intelligence and trust intersect.

Participants’ intelligence was assessed by a 10-word vocabulary test. The assessment of the survey also determined how well the participants understood the questions.

The researchers found that the more intelligent people are, the more likely they are to trust people.

They surmise that intelligent people are more likely to be better judges of character, and so surround themselves with people who are more trustworthy. Smarter people are usually better at eyeballing a situation. They can better convince someone who disagrees with them to cross over to their side of an agreement. The team thinks this is because human intelligence and trust are part of natural selection. The humans who survived were smarter and had more trustworthy partners alongside them.

Researchers have long associated trust with improved health and happiness. But the researchers say although intelligence and trust are linked, intelligence doesn’t appear to be linked to health and happiness. Experts say more studies are needed to define clearly how trust and health are linked.

So trust is a good thing. After all, who doesn’t want to be happier, healthier and smarter?