November 15, 2011

Energy and IQ

Inductivist and Jason Malloy check out the General Social Survey to look at people self-reporting to have "energy all the time" over the last month. Jason writes:
wordsum IQ 
0-2: 11.6% 
3-4: 14.8% 
5-6: 10.2% 
7-8: 8.7% 
9-10: 5.0% 

Intelligence and energy have an inverse relationship! Smarter people feel a lot more drained.

Maybe smart people get worked harder. Or maybe it's just wider knowledge among smart people of how incredibly energetic some people are. Like I once spent five minutes talking to financier Michael Milken. He had a lot of energy! And he has a lot energy all the time. My favorite Milken story is about the nobody who had been trying to get a meeting with Milken for months to pitch his idea for a junk bond leveraged buy out. Finally, Milken's secretary calls to say Mr. Milken can meet with him next Sunday at 5:30 am. He says, "Great, I'll be there!" 

Then, late than night he gets a call from the great man himself. Milken apologizes for not noticing that this Sunday is going to be the first day of Standard Time, and since the clocks will Fall Back at 2 am, he'd like to change the meeting to 4:30 AM Sunday. "So, 4:30 am okay?"

Yeah, sure, Mike, no problem, I was just wondering myself what I was going to do with that extra hour!


Nanonymous said...

I'd go with the smarter people having more nuanced understanding of what "all the time" is or is not.

The straightforward physiological explanation would involve smarter people expending more energy thinking. At least, in recent years there was some blurb about relationship between intellectual effort and caloric intake (I don't buy it because I'd expect the difference should be too small).

Since you stay up late, you should have suggested 3:30 instead :-)

Hail said...

It could be, in part: Smarter people are more humble, or less self-confident.

"Oh, I have energy all the time!" can be seen as very...self-aggrandizing.

RKU said...

Actually, lots of the GSS results suffer from massive self-reporting errors, which often leads to massive confusion on the part of the Inductivist fellow and others who often naively take the results at face value.

As a prime example of this, I think most self-reporting surveys indicate that East Asians tend to be among the least hard-working and the least good at math...

Sgt. Joe Friday said...

I think Vince, the Shamwow and Slap Chop guy, has a lot of energy. He doesn't strike me as being too terribly bright.

G.L.Piggy said...

thinking takes up a lot of energy. i've worked office jobs and labor - waiting tables or painting outside in the heat. i also spend a lot of time just thinking. i'd consider thinking, reading, and learning to be my favorite hobby. as such, i'm pretty much beat all the time. i've always been much more exhausted when engaging in activities that require brain power over physicality. the higher your IQ, the more likely you would be to devote time and energy to thinking.

i think there are some smart people - Milken for instance - who think so effortlessly or who know how to manage their thinking so well that they are able to balance energy and IQ. or maybe they just snort lots of coke.

Hail said...

"Vince, the Shamwow and Slap Chop guy"

Is he still in prison for beating up girls in that prostitution ring he got mixed up in?

Or has he safely landed in Israel yet, never to be touched by U.S. authorities again?

edgy gurl said...

The search for general g has proved fruitless.

So, now, the new improved search for E=mc(2).

Sorry, I've seen all the combinations:

smart n sluggish
stupid n sluggish
average n sluggish

smart n hyper
stupid n hyper
average n hyper

The real question s/b: Do smart people with excess energy do more things they shouldn't do than smart people with less energy?

Anonymous said...

Robin Williams - manic energy, cocaine addiction. Tommy Emmanuel - inhuman energy on the guitar, cocaine addiction. Just like with athletes and steroids, the knowledge dampens the appreciation.

JayMan said...

One possible explanation for your anecdotal observations of smart (and successful) people seeming to have high energy is a type of selection bias: you are noting people who are smart AND accomplished. Being highly successful takes a lot of motivation, which I assume also means a reasonable amount of energy. Someone who is smart but not so energetic would probably not be as likely to cross your path in the business or academic worlds. Just a thought...

Allison said...

I think you should stop using the word "energy" and start using the word "vigor".

The people I know closest to this are people who are this-close to being manic, but not quite. One friend like this, a banker in NYC, insists on taking his friends on "death marches" around Manhattan--he always walks in Manhattan, and he always walks 3 times faster than other New Yorkers, which is already faster than any non-New Yorker. He has 6 or 7 places to show you in a 3 hour period.

Another person I know like this simply needs less sleep than anyone else I know. By that I mean he suffers almost no ill effects from a lack of sleep in either mood, verbal acuity, motor coordination and the like. Not quite the same, but makes for huge difference in productivity over a lifetime.

Anonymous said...

Energy is pretty important in fields like sales, management, and finance. I can't count how many finance industry positions I've come across that ask for a "high energy" personality.

Thursday said...

One problem with using energy to predict how well people will do is that energy seems a lot more value neutral than intelligence and conscientiousness. After all, energy can be used to get oneself into mischief, especially when unfocused, as any elementary teacher could tell you.

In other words, energetic smart people might do better than lethargic smart people, but energetic dumb people might do worse than lethargic dumb people.

Anonymous said...

To maximize your life outcome, I think energy and IQ need to be combined with focus, maturity, and persistence. I know high energy smart people who waste their time arguing or pursuing some non-monetary, non-status hobby (ie WarCraft, blogging, partying). You've got to keep your eye on the prize and organize your life around that, if you want to accomplish something.

edgy gurl said...

"In other words, energetic smart people might do better than lethargic smart people, but energetic dumb people might do worse than lethargic dumb people."

You keep hoping that g can be converted into real world assets, don't you?

I'd say the opposite would be more true. High energy person of average or lower IQ gives him a good reputation as a worker. He's also typically some lug whose gonna go work on his car, bowl or shoot hoops every time he's got free time. Energetic high IQ types often combine impulsivity and novelty seeking hence the subject of your post.

agnostic said...

That energy questions shows a decent male advantage and a HUGE Mexican advantage, so I think it's measuring how ADD a person is. How much they felt like they couldn't sit still and just had to get up and move around.

It could be measuring restlessness more than how full of energy you are (non-ADD people could have lots of energy and not have to run around like crazy Mexican kids in the supermarket).

Anonymous said...

The people I know closest to this are people who are this-close to being manic, but not quite. One friend like this, a banker in NYC, insists on taking his friends on "death marches" around Manhattan--he always walks in Manhattan, and he always walks 3 times faster than other New Yorkers, which is already faster than any non-New Yorker. He has 6 or 7 places to show you in a 3 hour period.

I would like to meet this man. I've never met anyone who walks as fast as me. More than a few times I've spied people mockingly imitating my gait in reflections from shop windows as I've passed them by. It's a kick in the guts to think I look so silly walking through the city but to hell with it, I don't have time to dawdle.

Made it hard when I went to Europe, though, where people like to take leisurely strolls in large groups and breath in the surrounding night life. I felt like I was forever rushing ahead of the group and making everyone uncomfortable.

Lesson: high energy isn't always better.


Anonymous said...

Mexicans seem to have the "Wanderlust gene", which makes it hard for them to sit still.

Read this by Glayde Whitney.

Charles Davenport (1866-1944), an early American geneticist and founder in 1910 of the Eugenics Record Office at Cold Spring Harbor, NY, has often been ridiculed by the politically correct for suggesting that a wide variety of human traits — degeneracy, feeblemindedness, criminality, and “wanderlust” — have genetic origins. In fact, wanderlust genes have recently been reported. The gene in question, called DRD4, encodes one type of receptor for dopamine, an important neurotransmitter in the brain. The long form of the DRD4 gene has previously been linked to personality traits such as novelty-seeking, risk-taking, and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Now a new study suggests that long versions of DRD4 are more common among populations that have engaged in long distance migrations. Novelty-seeking, risk-taking, hyperactivity, and quick boredom with sedentary activities may all contribute to a tendency to travel and explore — or what commonly used to be called “wanderlust.”

East Asians are historically famous for not being exploratory: China quit exploring the world in the 15th century, and in the 19th century Commodore Matthew Perry had to sail a fleet into Tokyo Bay to break the isolation of Japan. A long form of DRD4 has a frequency of one percent or less among East Asians.

Interestingly, American Indians are thought to be descended from East Asians who crossed into the Americas. Among those who traveled farthest — South American Indians — the frequency of a long DRD4 reaches 78 percent. (Perhaps this explains some of the high incidence of ADHD and educational difficulties among Central American and South American Indian and Mestizo immigrants to the U.S.)

In a comparison of six different prehistoric and historic migration routes, the study found that in each case, “the populations that remained near their origins showed a lower proportion of long al-leles of DRD4 than those that migrated farther away. This finding was consistent across all six migration routes.”

Besides the Asian/American Indian contrast, there is a similar contrast between Asians and Pacific Islanders, with Pacific Islanders more likely to have the “wanderlust” gene. Also, Jews who migrated as far as Rome and Germany have a higher proportion of long DRD4 than do Jews who stayed in Yemen, closer to their origin. Bantus who migrated all the way to South Africa have a higher proportion of long DRD4 than those who stayed in Came-roon.

Among Indo-Europeans the study finds that “the Sardinians, who live geographically closer to the origin of their language family, had 0% long alleles ... , whereas the average for other European groups was 20%.” Although the difference is not statistically significant, there was even a difference between Europeans in Europe and Europeans in the U.S. for the long forms (15.75 percent vs. 22 percent).

When the data were analyzed across 39 different groups, the correlation between long-range migration and long DRD4s was a remarkable r = .85! The authors estimated that every 4.3 percent increase in long DRD4 represents an additional 1,000 miles of migration.

The authors speculate that among migratory groups the “exploratory aspect of human nature” (novelty seeking personality, risk taking behavior, hyperactivity) would be favored by natural selection, while these same behavioral tendencies would be maladaptive, and hence selected against, in more sedentary groups.

[Chuansheng Chen & 3 co-authors, “Population migration and the variation of dopamine D4 receptor (DRD4) allele frequencies around the globe.” Evolution and Human Behavior, Vol. 20, #5, 1999, pp. 309-324.]

Anonymous said...

Lack of energy can also correlate very strongly with "depression".

Although my gut instinct is that an intellectually honest neuropsychiatrist would admit that the "constellation of symptoms" which accompany a diagnosis of "depression" is no better than the "constellation of symptoms" which accompany a diagnosis of, say, "adrenal fatigue".

But I can guaran-dadgum-tee you that depression-related exhaustion is very, very real [even if we don't understand what "depression" amounts to].

Orlando Gibbons said...

Mexicans DO have more energy, on average, than whites - anyone who has employed or worked with them knows that.

Yesterday was Dramatic Today is Ok said...

@Allison - ∃ short sleepers who physiologically don't need more than six hours of sleep. There's a sci-fi story-then-series by Nancy Kress, 'Beggars in Spain', about a super-race of people who don't need to sleep at all.

K(yle) said...

Who is more likely to have high IQ, introverts or extroverts? Introverts would feel exhausted due to their psychological makeup. Who is more likely to even know their IQ and participate in the GSS; introverts or extroverts?

Anonymous said...

Did Blogger/Blogspot eat my post on exhaustion & "depression"?

Spandrell said...

I'm with Piggy, it's coke. How do you think we managed to destroy Colombia AND Mexico? Huge amounts of coke consumed in western countries. And the stuff ain't cheap.

Anonymous said...

"Yesterday was Dramatic Today is Ok" Did you really just use the existential quantification symbol? Impressive.

Anonymous said...

Mexicans DO have more energy, on average, than whites - anyone who has employed or worked with them knows that.

That rings true. I had a coworker who was half Mexican, half English. He wasn't particularly smart (below average for his job) but he was the hardest working guy I've ever seen in my life. By far. It seemed that he simply couldn't stop going.

David said...

>or maybe they just snort lots of coke<

The clammy hand of reality taking this discussion by the throat. Don't forget meth and its precursor benzedrine. Burgess Meredith said that he and Orson Welles swallowed the latter by the handful.

>I can't count how many finance industry positions I've come across that ask for a "high energy" personality.<

A well-known trick of hiring managers trying to skirt age discrimination laws. "High energy" is a euphemism for "30 years old and younger," and in many more fields than finance.

IMO sustained intellectual activity greatly drains energy. Steve himself said somewhere that his head raises the temperature of the room he's writing in and he needs a cooling fan to beat the heat.

(Anon., thanks for the Glayde Whitney article.)

Average Joe said...

It is likely that having a high IQ is costly for the individual which would explain why there are so few geniuses in the world.

Paul Mendez said...

"I divide officers into four classes -- the clever, the lazy, the stupid and the industrious. Each officer possesses at least two of these qualities. Those who are clever and industrious are fitted for the high staff appointments. Use can be made of those who are stupid and lazy. The man who is clever and lazy is fit for the very highest commands. He has the temperament and the requisite nerves to deal with all situations. But whoever is stupid and industrious must be removed immediately."

Attributed, circa 1933; General Baron Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord (1878-1943); German Chief of Army Command (1930-33)

Paul Mendez said...

Mexicans DO have more energy, on average, than whites - anyone who has employed or worked with them knows that.

In my personal experience, Central Americans will indeed work hard when GIVEN something to do, but Germans are most likely to LOOK for things to do.

I think the term "energy" has two components. One is the ability to work hard at a given task. The other is the drive to take on new tasks, especially ones that are not forced upon you.

Personally, I can work extremely hard and well at tasks I MUST do. However, I am very bad at motivating myself to initiate new things I COULD do.

Anonymous said...

Schopenhauer on thinking:

To form a judgement intuitively is the privilege of the few; authority and example lead the rest of the world. They see with the eyes of other. They hear with the ears of others. Therefore it is easy to think as all the world now think; but to think as all the world will think 30 years hence, is not in the power of every one"

I suggest The Great Quotations edited by George Seldes. It'a a 1000 page paperback with a ton of quotes. I picked it up at a used book sale.

Svigor said...

Mexicans DO have more energy, on average, than whites - anyone who has employed or worked with them knows that.

I've worked with them, and I don't know that. I worked in lawn maintenance. When I came on it was the middle of August (in Charleston, SC) and I almost croaked. The Mexican kid (half my age) worked circles around me. He took a long hiatus and when he came back, in the middle of summer, I was working circles around him. He wasn't below average, either. Sometimes we brought on the other lads in his extended family and he worked circles around them.

It's a lifestyle thing. Can't even get many Blacks to go into boxing any more, and hard-knock-life Russians are running the show.

morleysafer said...

The advantageous combo is energy and mental spryness. Lately I see it with Ron Paul, now older than another Ron was in '84 but (at least on camera) able to verbally outrun supposed intellectual Gingrich, and keep pace with fellow Pennsylvanian/whippersnapper Santorum. RP is undoubtedly sharper by Congressional IQ standards but may approach Hearst or Tom Cruise level for manic drive. Since nat'l politicians specialize in being energetic anyway, it's impressive he hangs in there. Also the quotation of Hammerstein-Equord above is a great precis of the fundamentals, far more instructive than Hedgehog vs. Fox.