Money can't buy you happiness, and a new study suggests intelligence won't do the trick either.

Researchers found happiness in old age was not associated with lifelong intelligence in a group of healthy men and women living in Scotland.

"If you are 80 and healthy, then your satisfaction with how your life has turned out bears no relation to how you scored on an IQ test recently or 70 years ago," says researcher Ian Deary, professor of differential psychology at the University of Edinburgh, in a news release.

The results of the study appear in the July 16 issue of the British Medical Journal.

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Smarter People Not Necessarily Happier

Researchers compared satisfaction in old age with intelligence in a group of 550 healthy men and women with no signs of dementia who were born in Scotland in 1921.

Each of the participants had their mental abilities tested at age 11 and again at about age 80 when they also filled out a questionnaire on life satisfaction.

After researchers converted the test scores to IQs (intelligence quotients) and adjusted them for age, they found satisfaction with life or happiness in old age was not related to intelligence across the person's life span.

Although a relationship between happiness and intelligence may have been expected because intelligence is highly valued by society, researchers say that intelligence has its plusses as well as its minuses.

For example, higher intelligence may lead to greater achievement, but it also brings with it greater awareness of alternatives, which may lead to frustration.

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By Jennifer Warner, reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

SOURCES: Gow, A. British Medical Journal, July 16, 2005; vol 331: pp 141-142. News release, British Medical Journal.