Study Finds Genetic Link Between Height and IQ

Bob Yirka, Medical Xpress, March 5, 2014

A team of researchers at Edinburgh University in Scotland has found a correlation between genes associated with height and those associated with intelligence. In their paper published in the journal Behavior Genetics, the group describes how they studied the DNA of 6,815 unrelated people and discovered what they describe as a direct correlation between height and intelligence—taller people are smarter, they say.

While the team’s study results are likely to cause quite a stir, particularly among those lower in physical stature, it does add to a growing body of research that suggests there are physical, mental and in some cases emotional differences between people related to body size (both height and girth). In this effort, the team used data obtained from Generation Scotland: Scottish Family Health Study—where both medical tests and mental aptitude were tested—intelligence was measured via four basic metrics: mental reaction times, linguistic ability, processing speed and powers of recall.

In analyzing data from the study, the team found what they describe as a “significant genetic correlation” between IQ and height—between taller and shorter people. Those that were shorter were on average, found to be slightly less intelligent than their taller counterparts. It’s important to note that the researchers are not suggesting that all short people are less intelligent, or that all tall people are more intelligent. Instead they are pointing out averages across a population. Also important to note is that the Family Health Study did not use standard IQ tests to measure intelligence.

The research team also claim that 70 percent of the genetic differences they found regarding IQ and height could be attributed to genetic factors—the rest could be chalked up to environment.

{snip} The researchers in Scotland point out that prior studies have relied mainly on testing people related to one another—theirs, they claim, is the first study to measure people who are completely unrelated.

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  • David Ashton

    A lot of black people are a lot taller than I am.

    • sbuffalonative

      On the internet, no one knows how tall you are.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        I am five feet two inches tall, one hundred and ten pounds soaking wet. My German ex-husband very tall.

      • David Ashton

        Do the Congolese “Forest People” have an internet site?

    • Bossman

      Yeah, most of them are so tall and dumb that they become basketball players.

    • Steven Bannister

      The study probably doesn’t cross racial boundaries, just within the same race.

  • borogirl54

    A lot of Asians are short but they have high IQ’s.

    • So CAL Snowman

      My thoughts exactly when I first read this garbage. According to this study the NFL and the NBA should be overflowing with MENSA members.

      • Person of Whiteness

        No, it’s just a slight correlation.

      • MENSA in Spanish means stupid.
        So yeah, sort of.

        • itdoesnotmatter

          There are a lot of simple people in MENSA. Ex is a math genius, but hard pressed to tie his own shoes.

      • anon4NSA

        It’s because many people are shorter due to health, genetic, and nutritional issues. The studies design was quite flawed. Actually a study among athletes showed that shorter people were superior in every way regarding health. Being taller and bigger is actually bad for ones health.

    • APaige

      Could it be that height and IQ is related within the same racial groups? Ex: taller Asians are smarter than shorter Asians?

    • Max

      They didn’t test this BUT it may be that tall Asians are slightly more intelligent thatn short Asians.

      There’s your opportunity to do a study.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        I had a [now deceased] six ft two Japanese Mensa friend. His father was about five ft four, his mother nearly six feet tall. Father a civil engineer, mother a psychiatrist, as was my friend.

        • dd121

          Asians get about as tall as whites when they eat the american diet for a generation.

          • The American diet is poor and unhealthy. Don’t kid yourself. Stocky midgets are midgets regardless of diet. I’ll be dammed to see many Chinese-American men walking around at 6’3. Rare for Asians, not for Whites.

    • Bossman

      So does that disproves the theory?

  • JSS

    To many tall blacks around for me to take this one at face value.

    • So CAL Snowman

      Too* – Hey I’m only 6 feet tall.

      • itdoesnotmatter

        One of my boys is 6 feet, 6 inches tall, only 16 years old. We had him checked for pituitary dysfunction. Values are normal. It is genes.
        Smart as a whip, sweet spirited, that child.

        • IstvanIN

          My daughter is 5’3″ and incredibly smart, can not figure out where she got it from. Neither side is brilliant and I know they didn’t switch babies at the hospital because she looks like me (but much prettier!).

          • Sick of it

            Sometimes you end up with genes for intelligence from grandparents and great grandparents. Genetics is a mixed bag.

          • IstvanIN

            We were pretty average, hard working, but average on both sides. I did have a great-grandfather who was an low-level officer and expert horseman in the Austro-Hungarian Army. But that is about it.

          • Alexandra1973

            That’s about how tall I am, and I’m above average IQ-wise.

            My son has a really good memory and I think he got it from me.

        • ncpride

          My son is already 5’6 and just turned 13 a few months ago. I think he may surpass his father who is 5’11 and take after my father who is around 6’2 or 3. Thankfully, he didn’t take after me….I’m only 5’1. No fair considering both my parents are much taller….. : /

          • Sick of it

            My Nephew’s 14 and nearly 6’3″. His dad’s a bit taller than me.

        • dd121

          My daughter is a 5′ 10″ blonde, blue-eyed doctor. My son is 5′ 10″ lawyer. Not sure what that means. I got dropped on my head at 18 months and had a severe contrecoup concussion. Obviously never recovered.

          • François

            “My daughter is a 5′ 10″ blonde, blue-eyed doctor.”
            I hope she is racially aware, because a tall, beautiful natural blonde like her will be a “target”, for an affirmative action Black physician wanting a wife or girlfriend who’ll be some kind of status symbol, for him.

          • dd121

            She’s married to an anesthesiologist who is quite white. The two kids are blond/blue eyed and by accounts quite bright.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      Maybe tall blacks aren’t allowed to reach the full extent of their genius potential because of racial discrimination and white privilege.

    • BonV.Vant

      This study was done within a population of Scotts, it was not a cross racial population.

      • JSS

        I’m sure the politically correct Scott’s included some “Scottish” diversity. They have plenty of it up there.

  • The Bogeyman

    All of those NBA players must be GENIUSES!!!

  • JohnEngelman

    Taller people tend to have larger brains. This may have something to do with the correlation, if indeed there is a correlation.

    • Bossman

      Taller people are also supposed to have shorter life-span. Tall men usually have better job opportunities.

      • Extropico

        That is the first up vote I have given you. You’re welcome!

    • That’s nonsense. Stocky East Asians with short legs, long torsos, big, broad heads and large brains, where the head is over-sized in comparison to the body, means that this study is bull!

  • Spartacus

    Thinking about it from a racial perspective, it actually makes sense – Whites are, on average, taller than the darkies, and they have higher IQs . Doesn’t mean there’s a correlation between height and intelligence, it’s just another racial difference .

    • Bossman

      Most East Asians are very short by Western standards.

      • DaveMed

        I read once that, adjusting for diet, they’re not that much shorter. Have to look this up again.

      • Spartacus

        Yes, but I doubt Edinburgh University has a lot of Japanese and Koreans available as test subjects…

  • DaveMed

    Did they adjust for race?

    Whites (especially those of Germanic stock) tend to be taller than many non-Whites.

    I doubt there’s any direct correlation – otherwise, the NBA would be made up of crypto-geniuses.

    EDIT: everyone beat me to it, it seems.

    • The Verdict of History

      Very cute.

    • IstvanIN

      Germans are known for being great scientists and engineers.

      • Alexandra1973

        I’ve heard that Germans have the highest average IQ out of Whites. Slavics, at the bottom.

        I have some of both!

        • JDInSanD

          Looks like its Italy. Maybe the The Germanic countries are taking a hit due to muzzie immigration.

          • Rosenmops

            Someone quipped that every time a German with an IQ of 140 dies or moves away he is replaced by two Turks each having an IQ of 70.

          • antiquesunlight

            I’d say that’s likely. According to that chart, USA has an average IQ of 98. Just imagine how much higher it would be if you didn’t count the ~50 million Hispanics and the ~40 million blacks. I bet we would jump up a couple points, at least.

        • Slavic Russians and Poles don’t have low IQ.

  • disqus_Xz3UA6obwj

    Bad news for Guatemala. The height average there is 4’10”.

    • Bossman

      The Japanese are a race of midgets and yet they are intelligent.

      • Extropico

        Very smart although rather short, yoda was.

        • Short people are OK. My wife is 4’9″, and when I introduced her to my mother, the first thing she wanted to do is give Sayaka a hug.

      • IstvanIN

        They were shorter prior to the war but are much closer to average European height today. And they weren’t technology stupid back then.

    • saxonsun

      Looking at squat monsters, it has to be shorter!

  • Geo1metric

    Then why haven’t any pro-basketball teams won any Nobel prizes?

    • Garrett Brown

      Rofl! EXACTY what I was thinking.

  • Person of Whiteness

    The responses so far to this article have been ridiculous. It’s called a correlation, and no one’s saying that tall blacks are smarter than short whites, on average or otherwise.

    • Max

      Well, sometimes here on Amren people just ridicule the ridiculous.

    • silviosilver

      Yes, I thought the same. I’ve seen it here before. Give them a scientific finding they don’t like (or don’t understand) and they begin acting like panicked race-deniers. My guess would be they’re so accustomed to using scientific facts to bash blacks that it wasn’t immediately clear what to do with this one. Whites have a million reasons to be upset by what’s going on, so it’s understandable people want to vent. Sometimes it goes too far, though, and ultimately it’s wasted mental energy since it will require much more than mere venting to effect serious change.

  • 1stworlder

    This cant be right judging from the steroid and HGH using guys that get paid to touch balls.

    • Max

      Yeah, you’d have to read the original publication to find out what’s going on. It may be that they just measured Scots or it could even be that tall Ashkenazi’s are smarter than short Ashkenazi’s, tall African baksabawl playas are smarter than short African baksabawl playas etc. Lotsa variables to control for here.

      • Person of Whiteness

        That’s the idea.

    • You owe me a cup of coffee!

      • IstvanIN

        That took me a second to understand, as well. I was like, huh????

      • 1stworlder

        Have you not noticed that the gay ambassador that stopped drinking the kool aid and asked for better security because he realized the muslims protecting him where anti gay, anti white and pro jihad, got ignored by Obama, but every gay that gets paid to touch balls gets invited to the white house. Pointing it out to leftists causes them cognitive dissonance

      • Irishgirl

        I’m glad I’m not the only one whose mind is in the gutter this morning.

  • Extropico

    Ceteris Paribus, it is an advantage to be tall, but it appears that a larger body size correlates with a lower life expectancy.

  • Diana Moon Glampers

    To get even a loose corelation they would have needed to control for race, ethnicity, and age. (Younger people are taller). You would need a huge survey size too. Getting it right would be difficult. I am all for any studies of genetics & intelligence, so I would find it really interesting if they could get it right.

  • John K

    Another p/c study funded by taxpayers.

    • Who Me?

      This study was done in Scotland, so none of us taxpayers paid for it.

  • IstvanIN

    5’8″ is tall for a woman but short for a man.

  • MBlanc46

    ” Also important to note is that the Family Health Study did not use standard IQ tests to measure intelligence.”

    Yes, it’s very important to not use IQ tests, because nasty old IQ tests show that some groups are significantly less intelligent than others.

  • Michael Mason

    Intelligence and high stature are the characteristics of the best warriors. The best warriors are the ones that pass on their genes.

  • Garrett Brown

    I always knew being a handsome, 6’3 Celt had something to do with it.

  • Garrett Brown

    So negro basketball players make Einstein look like a retard… Hmmmm

  • Peter Connor

    This has been known for awhile.

  • Mark Green

    Did they test all races? let’s see… Japanese and Chinese men vs Somalis, Zimbabwes and South Africans. I believe that this study may have some flaws.

  • antiquesunlight

    Maybe this explains why Mexicans are so dumb.

    • I think in their case it is because they have just a little too much Native American ancestry, and it isn’t even the right sort of Native American. Iroquois and Cherokee aren’t the same as Aztecs and Mayans.

      • antiquesunlight

        I don’t know a great deal about any of them, but I’ve been looking into the Aztecs a little because they come up a lot in YouTube debates (e.g., “The Aztecs were 5000x more advanced than any European civilization!!!”). Turns out they barely had a written language in the 13/1400s CE! “Barely,” as in, they were drawing little pictures to communicate ideas. And if you look up images of what they think Tenochtitlan looked like in its heyday, it looks like ancient Mesopotamia. Real advanced, for sure. And of course Aztecs were in/around Mexico…
        But I was under the impression that North American Indians were generally even farther behind in terms of civilization. I don’t guess that necessarily equals low IQ, but it would seem to imply that. Have their been studies done? I’m trying to learn more about all this sort of thing because, like I said, it comes up constantly.

  • Garrett Brown

    Average actually.

    • No, you’re wrong. 5’10 is medium height for a grown man. Beyond that is tall and below that is short. East Asians are shorter, on average, so their idea of tall and short will not coincide with the western idea. Tall-type white men are usually around 6’1 and 6’3. Where as East Asians tend to think their men are tall at 5’9 and 6’11 – LOL – behold the difference!

  • dd121

    Dem genes again. The usual response of libs is to deny their existence. It’s part of their magical world-view.

  • Norseman

    In all likelihood they are not, but they might, on average, be slightly smarter than shorter blacks.

  • BaronBaal

    Riiiiight…those short Chinese are real dummies, I tell ya…

  • The study was done in Scotland so more likely all participants were white.

  • John R

    Tall people are genetically smarter, on average? This is wrong. It is a racist study. Obviously environment plays the factor. Tall people are noticed more in class; they like to learn because they are respected more by teachers and peers; they have more nutritious diets. No, this cannot be. We need to also look at the questions on the tests that may be revealing a cultural bias toward tall people, such as using phrases like “looking up”, and “standing high in my profession.” What we really need is a government program that will force businesses to increase the number of short workers that they hire, and, on television, give kids more short role models……(Am I getting PC enough for you yet?)

  • Charles Martel

    So that must be why the college and pro basketball teams are filled with geniuses right?

  • WR_the_realist

    I am short and certainly smarter than the average white person. But that no more “disproves” the claims in the article than the existence of Thomas Sowell “disproves” the one standard deviation gap in black and white IQ. I am in fact shorter than about half the women I meet but that doesn’t disprove the claim that men are on average significantly taller than women.


    And he looked like a butcher in a shower until he put his pockets on.


    “It’s easier to make a dumb pretty girl smart than to make a smart ugly girl pretty.” – Max Schulman, “Love Is a Fallacy,” from The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis.

  • Truth Teller

    The nerd stereotype is basically tall and lanky is it not?

  • Truth Teller

    Being taller doesn’t make you smarter. I think the reason for the results is that some people are shorter because they were malnourished during childhood and that also affected brain growth. Just a thought. Healthy short people and healthy tall people should have the same intelligence.

  • Reality has it that the opposite is true. The consistently smartest people in the world are among the shortest and the consistently dumbest are among the tallest.

    • WR_the_realist

      I am a short man but I don’t see much evidence for this. I know some very smart people and their heights pretty much range over the average for their sex. There are some tall smart guys, some average height smart guys, and some short smart guys. I see no evidence that the smart ones are consistently shorter. As for whether taller people are smarter on average, I suspect the correlation is slight but it still may be positive.

  • Korean guy

    I am South Korean and I rarely see any guy from any race, taller than me. And the ones I have seen who are taller than me, are mostly white. I rarely see any black male or brown male taller than I am. But that would also be because there are a lot more whites than there are blacks in Canada.

    Both of the guys in this photo, are of Dutch ancestry.

    Something that makes me wonder is, obesity appears to be quite rare among East Asian girls, but East Asian women like everything that obese white women or black women like.

  • antiquesunlight

    Really? What all did they create? From what I can tell, by the ~1300s CE the Aztecs had managed to create a civilization at about the level of the ancient Mid East. Their architecture was primitive, they don’t appear to have had much science or technology, and they just barely had a written language.

  • Swanny Feather

    Your post is interesting ,but hypothyroidism type II is underdiagnosed and undertreated in this country and in England. Hypothyroidism is directly related to cretinism which causes short stature, obesity, and lowered intelligence. The Dutch are the tallest Europeans. The English and in turn the Americans are closely related to the Dutch ,but no where near as tall. If hypothyroidism type II were treated in England and America, Americans and the English would probably be as tall as the Dutch.

  • weiopwpowgepo

    This study was only about ONE heritable, racial trait (height) compared with another (intelligence). That doesn’t mean that other racial factors don’t have their own correlations with intelligence. Norseman is right, the correlation is probably more important in comparing tall and short of the same race, or possibly comparing tall and short races. I’m quite certain that short Koreans (generally the tallest of east Asians) are more intelligent, on average, than tall New Guinea natives.

  • Norseman

    “What you say is possible, but then extremely tall African tribes lile the Watusi should be smarter than the average Black in America?”

    Even if the article does not say so, I would think that the sample chosen for this study is taken from either one country or a number of fairly similar countries. It might very well be that a global survey would give a very different result. Because of racial disparaties, it is possible that this result only reflects height differences between different races. It would be intersting to see the statistics broken down by different racial groups.