New research seems to prove the theory that brainy people spend more time lazing around than their active counterparts.
Findings from a US-based study seem to support the idea that people with a high IQ get bored less easily, leading them to spend more time engaged in thought.
And active people may be more physical as they need to stimulate their minds with external activities, either to escape their thoughts or because they get bored quickly.
Researchers from the Florida Gulf Coast University gave a classic test – dating back three decades – to a group of students.
The ‘need for cognition’ questionnaire asked participants to rate how strongly they agree with statements such as “I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems”, and “I only think as hard as I have to”.
The researchers, led by Todd McElroy, then selected 30 ‘thinkers’ and 30 ‘non-thinkers’ from the pool of candidates.
Over the next seven days both groups wore a device on their wrist which tracked their movements and activity levels, providing a constant stream of data on how physically active they were.
Results showed the thinking group were far less active during the week than the non-thinkers.
The findings of the study, published in the Journal of Health Psychology, were described as “highly significant” and “robust” in statistical terms.
But the weekends showed no difference between the two groups, something which has not been able to be explained.
Researchers suggested the findings could lend weight to the idea that non-thinkers get bored more easily, so need to fill their time with physical activity.
But the downside to being brainer – and lazier – warned Mr McElroy was the negative impact of a sedentary lifestyle.
He suggested that the less active people, no matter how clever they are, should aim to raise their overall activity levels to improve their health
The British Psychological Society quoted the study, saying: “Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness.
“Awareness of their tendency to be less active, coupled with an awareness of the cost associated with inactivity, more thoughtful people may then choose to become more active throughout the day.”
Despite highlighting an unusual trend, generalising the findings should be done with caution due to the small sample of participants, it added.
By Rebecca Flood