B3783 - An exploration into the links between educational attainment intelligence and wellbeing - 24/05/2021

B number: 
Principal applicant name: 
Claire Haworth | School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol.
Jessica Armitage , Oliver Davis
Title of project: 
An exploration into the links between educational attainment, intelligence, and wellbeing.
Proposal summary: 

In a recent Mendelian Randomisation (MR) study we found a casual link to suggest an independent positive impact of staying in school on wellbeing, but a negative impact of intelligence on wellbeing. In the current project, we aim to explore further the extent to which either of these effects are moderated by the other. To do this, we will use available data from genome-wide association studies (GWAS) on educational attainment and intelligence to construct polygenic scores. These scores will be used in an interactive model to predict wellbeing in ALSPAC participants. This will allow us to investigate whether the positive effects of educational attainment are driven by those with higher intelligence, and whether negative effects of intelligence are moderated by spending more time in school. We also aim to understand more about the factors driving the main effects of educational attainment and intelligence on wellbeing. We will therefore investigate the potential role of socioeconomic status (SES), personality, and peer relations. Previous findings have shown that children more likely to complete more years of schooling tend to grow up in families with more socioeconomic resources (Krapohl & Plomin, 2016), have certain personality traits (Heckman, Stixrud & Urzua, 2006), and more extensive social networks (Chen, 2012). Thus, we aim to explore the extent to which these factors mediate or moderate associations between educational attainment and wellbeing, and between intelligence and wellbeing.

Impact of research: 
The current study will advance our understanding of the benefits of staying in school and why this may matter for wellbeing. The importance of education has been heavily emphasised in policy and government, yet little is known about its role in predicting positive aspects of mental health, and the role of factors driving positive effects. Understanding the relative contribution of education and intelligence on wellbeing is of clear importance for devising policy interventions focused on improving wellbeing. If the association between education and wellbeing is largely accounted for by intelligence, SES, or personality, interventions may benefit less from focusing on raising the school leaving age, and more on narrowing the gap to ensure those at risk of completing fewer years in school are supported.
Date proposal received: 
Tuesday, 18 May, 2021
Date proposal approved: 
Monday, 24 May, 2021
Epidemiology, Polygenic risk scores, Genetic epidemiology