The Positive Link Between Anxiety and Intelligence
Are you someone who constantly worries? Do you often feel anxious about things that may not even exist or pose a threat? If so, there is some good news for you. Recent studies have shown a positive correlation between anxiety and intelligence.
In 2015, researchers discovered that people who worry a lot do so because of high levels of spontaneous activity in the part of the brain that manages threat perception. Fear allows us to react to potential threats in a timely manner. Being happy all the time means we may not think about potential problems, thus making it difficult to anticipate something we’re not thinking about. Unsurprisingly, the ultra-cheerful are at a disadvantage when faced with adversity or rare, complex problems.
However, people with anxiety are often responding to a threat that doesn’t even exist. The anxiety they experience is due to their imagination being highly active. An active imagination keeps one safe from potential threats that others may not even pick up on. These findings have been published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, only one study among several others that have found a strong link between anxiety and intelligence.
An Anxious Mind Is a Focused Mind
It’s a common belief that anxiety only brings negative effects, and many people who deal with anxiety wish they did not have to. However, a little bit of anxiety can actually be a good thing. In 2012, Israeli psychologists conducted a test on 80 students at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. These students believed they were there to assess artwork on a piece of software. Instead, the program was rigged, and the students triggered a computer virus. They were then encouraged to contact IT.
As the students left the room to try to find IT, they were accosted by various obstacles. Some students dropped papers as they walked by, and someone stopped them to ask participants to complete a survey. The test found that the participants who really wanted to reach IT to fix the virus actually had the highest amount of anxiety.
The anxious students wanted to accomplish their goal at any cost, as they had a greater sense of the threat and what was at stake. The correlation between IQ comes in because when anxious people want to relieve their anxiety, not just by performing a task, they want to perform it well. Thus, anxiety can actually increase our chances of success.
Anxiety is a highly complex condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can be debilitating and impact daily life. However, it is essential to highlight the potential benefits that come with anxiety. Studies have shown that high levels of anxiety and an active imagination are linked to intelligence. Anxiety can give people a greater sense of threat, and in turn, a greater focus on achieving a goal. While anxiety may be unpleasant and may require attention and therapy, we should also recognize the potential positives it can bring.