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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Psychology

Postgraduate Course: Intelligence, Personality and Health (MSc) (PSYL11077)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course aims to describe and evaluate research on the role that intelligence and personality traits may play in determining health.
Course description The aim of this course is to describe and evaluate research on the role that intelligence and personality traits may play in determining health across life. The objectives of the course are: to review research in the new field of cognitive epidemiology that shows that higher intelligence in youth is associated with a lower risk of premature death; to consider evidence on various pathways through which higher intelligence might be linked to lower mortality, namely via socioeconomic advantage, improved disease or injury prevention, better disease or injury management, better mental health or 'body system integrity'; and to evaluate research on the links between major personality traits and specific health outcomes and consider by what means personality might influence health. Each session will include a lecture but time will also be set aside for discussion of issues raised in the lecture and course reading.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Block 2 (Sem 1)
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 87 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 3000 word essay
Feedback Students are invited to see Course Organiser individually to discuss essay plans. There will be a discussion of a selected paper during each lecture. Feedback will be given by peers and lecturer.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate understanding of some basic epidemiological concepts, such as causation and confounding
  2. describe and appraise current evidence linking intelligence and risk of specific health outcomes
  3. describe and appraise current evidence linking major personality traits and risk of specific health outcomes
  4. evaluate some hypothesised mechanisms underlying these findings, drawing on relevant evidence
Reading List
Week 1: Introduction to cognitive epidemiology. Intelligence as a predictor of death.

This session will introduce students to the field of cognitive epidemiology and to some basic concepts and methods of epidemiological research. We will consider the evidence that lower intelligence is a risk factor for earlier death and examine potential explanations for this link.

Gottfredson L. (2004) Intelligence: is it the epidemiologists' elusive "fundamental cause" of social class inequalities in health? J Pers Soc Psychol 86:174-99.

Batty GD, Wennerstad KM et al. (2009) IQ in early adulthood and mortality by middle age: cohort study of 1 million Swedish men. Epidemiology 20:100-109.

Calvin CM, Deary IJ, Fenton C, Roberts B, Der G, Leckenby N, Batty GD. (2011) Intelligence in youth and all-cause mortality: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Int J Epidemiol 40:626-644.

Martin LT, Kubzansky LD. (2005) Childhood cognitive performance and risk of mortality: a prospective cohort study of gifted individuals. Am J Epidemiol 162:887-90.

Murray C, Pattie C, Starr J, Deary IJ. (2012) Does cognitive ability predict mortality in the ninth decade? Intelligence 40:490-98.

Batty GD, Der G, MacIntyre S, Deary IJ.(2006) Does IQ explain socioeconomic inequalities in health? Evidence from a population based cohort study in the west of Scotland. BMJ.332:580-4.

Week 2: Intelligence and physical health

In this session we will consider whether intelligence is linked with specific somatic health problems and look at the evidence that intelligence might be a risk factor for unintentional injury. We will discuss potential mechanisms that might help to explain these associations.

Lawlor DA, Batty GD, Clark H, McIntyre S, Leon DA. (2008) Association of childhood intelligence with risk of coronary heart disease and stroke: findings from the Aberdeen Children of the 1950s cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol 23:695-706

Batty GD, Modig Wennerstad K, Davey Smith G, Gunnell D, Deary IJ, Tynelius P, Rasmussen F. IQ in early adulthood and later cancer risk (2007) Ann Oncol 18:21-8.

Batty GD, Gale CR, Tynelius P, Deary IJ, Rasmussen F. (2009) IQ in early adulthood, socioeconomic position, and unintentional injury mortality by middle age: a cohort study of more than 1 million Swedish men. Am J Epidemiol 169:606-15.

Der G, Batty GD, Deary IJ.(2009) The association between IQ in adolescence and a range of health outcomes at 40 in the 1979 US National Longitudinal Study of Youth. Intelligence. 37:573-580.

Batty GD, Deary IJ, Schoon I, Gale CR. (2007) Childhood mental ability in relation to food intake and physical activity in adulthood: the 1970 British Cohort Study. Pediatrics. 119:38-45.

Batty GD, Deary IJ, Schoon I, Gale CR. (2007) Mental ability across childhood in relation to risk factors for premature mortality in adult life: the 1970 British Cohort Study. J Epidemiol Community Health. 61:997-1003.

The following reference is also relevant to the lectures in Weeks 4 and 5:

Deary IJ, Weiss A, Batty GD. (2010) Intelligence and personality as predictors of illness and death; how researchers in differential psychology and chronic disease epidemiology are collaborating to understand and address health inequalities. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 11:53-79.

Week 3: Intelligence and mental health

In this session we will examine the evidence on the relationship between intelligence and various manifestations of mental distress, including diagnosed mental disorders, symptoms of anxiety and depression, attempted suicide, and somatization.

Gale CR, Batty GD, Tynelius P, Deary IJ, Rasmussen F (2010) Intelligence in early adulthood and subsequent hospitalization for mental disorders. Epidemiology 21:70-77.

Koenen KC, Moffitt TE, Roberts AL, Martin LT, Kubzansky L, Harrington H, Poulton R, Caspi A. (2009) Childhood IQ and adult mental disorders: a test of the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Am J Psychiatry 166:50-57

Gale CR, Hatch SL, Batty GD, Deary IJ. (2009) Intelligence in childhood and risk of psychological distress in adulthood: The 1958 National Child Development Survey and the 1970 British Cohort Study Intelligence 37:592:599

Dickson H, Laurens KR, Cullen AE, Hodgins S.(2012) Meta-analyses of cognitive and motor function in youth aged 16 years and younger who subsequently develop schizophrenia. Psychol Med. 42:743-55

Sörberg A, Allebeck P, Melin B, Gunnell D, Hemmingsson T (2013). Cognitive ability in early adulthood is associated with later suicide and suicide attempt: the role of risk factors over the life course. Psychol Med.43:49-60.

Weeks 4 & 5: Personality, disease and mortality

In these sessions we will examine research on whether personality traits are linked to risk of death and other health outcomes and explore the mechanisms that might underlie any associations.

The references below are relevant for weeks 4 and 5.

Matthews G, Deary IJ, Whiteman MC (2009). Traits and health in: Personality traits.3rd edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp301-322.

Lahey BB (2009) Public health significance of neuroticism. American Psychologist 64:241-256.

Bogg T, Roberts BW (2013) The case for conscientiousness: evidence and implications for a personality trait marker of health and longevity. Ann Behav Med 45;278-88.

Weiss A, Gale CR et al. (2009) Emotionally stable, intelligent men live longer: the Vietnam Experience Study. Psychosomatic Medicine 71, 385-394.

Chapman BP, Fiscella K, Kawachi I, Duberstein PR. (2010). Personality, socioeconomic status, and all-cause mortality in the United States. Am J Epidemiol, 171:83-92.

Deary IJ, Weiss A, Batty GD. (2010) Intelligence and personality as predictors of illness and death; how researchers in differential psychology and chronic disease epidemiology are collaborating to understand and address health inequalities. Psychological Science in the Public Interest 11:53-79.

Friedman HS (2000) Long-term relations of personality and health: dynamisms, mechanisms, tropisms. J Pers 68:1089-1107

Martin LR, Friedman HS, Schwartz JE (2007) Personality and mortality risk across the life span: the importance of conscientiousness as a biopsychosocial attribute. Health Psychol 26:428-36.

Nakaya N, Bidstrup PE, Saito-Nakaya K, Frederiksen K, Koskenvuo M, Pukkala E, Kaprio J, Floderus B, Uchitomi Y, Johansen C. (2010) Personality traits and cancer risk and survival based on Finnish and Swedish registry data. Am J Epidemiol 172:377-85

Hampson SE,Goldberg LR, Vogt TM, Dubanoski JP. (2007) Mechanisms by which childhood personality traits influence adult health status: Educational attainment and healthy behaviours Health Psychol 26: 121-125
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Participants will gain understanding and overview of the field of cognitive and personality epidemiology.
Additional Class Delivery Information Attend all lectures as scheduled
Keywordsindividual differences,health
Course organiserDr Catharine Gale
Tel: (0131 6)50 3348
Course secretaryMiss Toni Noble
Tel: (0131 6)51 3188
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