Ancestor Worship and High Intelligence

Spending time thinking about your ancestors has been proven to boost intelligence and emotional confidence in a ground-breaking study conducted by a group of Psychologists in Germany and Austria.

The paper which was published in the European Journal of Social Psychology showed in four separate studies that test subjects who were asked to engage in thinking positively about their ancestors before taking part in a series of intelligence tests scored significantly higher scores than those who were not.norse_gods_by_magnusedvarsson-d5c0pfy2

In the first experiment, three groups were asked either to think about their deep roots in the 15th century, their great grandparents or nothing at all.

Those who were asked to think about their ancestors were specifically told to imagine their lives, their professions, their family and the struggles they would have faced.

The results showed that both the groups who looked back had significantly stronger results than did the control group who did not.

The second study was less explicit – the test subjects were either asked, or not, to construct a family-tree before the tests.

This would have involved thinking about their family in some detail but meant the experimenters did not need to be so specific in their orders.

Results were much the same and reinforced those of first experiment.


Also tested in this case was ‘perceived life control’ (meaning the subjects’ perception of their ability to control their life and overcome problems) which was shown to have been increased in those groups who took part in the family tree building.

A third test was conducted where the groups were split between thinking about their distant ancestors (all dead), thinking about their grand-parents and great grandparents (still alive) or thinking about a close living friend.

Results showed no difference between close or distant relatives but the same significant improvement in test scores by both these groups compared to those who simply thought about a close living friend.

In a similar forth test the experimenters instructed the test subjects to think either positively or negatively about their ancestors. Once again, both groups outperformed the control group.

Therefore, it seems that whether we are critical or favourable about our ancestors, close or distant, the simple act of dwelling on this subject will boost both your intelligence and emotional health.

Source: Fischer, P., Sauer, A., Vogrincic, C., and Weisweiler, S. (2010) The ancestor effect: Thinking about our genetic origin enhances intellectual performance – European Journal of Social Psychology

7 thoughts on “Ancestor Worship and High Intelligence

  1. This is interesting. The powerfull families of old europe were keen to remember their ancestry and to make sure that their memory was passed down through the generations.

  2. Crazy Englishman

    - Edit

    Germans encouraged to think positively about their ancestry, doesn’t this carry a prison sentence for them.
    I think a time comes in life when people feel the need to find the roots of their family origins, but this should be passed on from family elders to grandchildren, unfortunately conversations between family of any worth has no place in this materialistic world, probably worth future genealogists‎ skipping over this period in time.
    On the other hand, just maybe our people will take note of the Greeks, reinstating themselves as a people worth recognition and remembrance.

  3. I was always interested in my ancestry and traced it. There was a noticeable increase in genealogical research among the English a few years ago. Perhaps because some had no offspring they consoled themselves with a feeling of belonging (I knew two such people). It did not take the BBC too long to see the burgeoning interest in these studies, after all growing numbers were researching their ancestry. I very rarely look at the television but did see how the BBC predictably approached the subject – they took a multicultural approach with the three presenters not being of English or British heritage. And ancestries were traced to India, The West Indies, etc. Unsurprisingly the state broadcaster would not allow this interest to be dominated by those who had sparked the subject, the English. They manipulated it and exploited it to fit their political agenda.

  4. All real English people are statistically certain to be descendants of Alfred the Great. All of us are children of the White Dragon.

  5. While certainly interesting, the immediate question that occurs is why? Is it due to the quiet internal focus (that could be on a poem or visualisation of something) that increases concentration or due to the more personal aspects of the subject.

  6. I think, in some ways, it is better not to know what level your ancestors have existed at. According to family legend I am related to Flora MacDonald (I don’t believe this); and, without a doubt, I have ancestors who founded a very large corporation — I don’t know, however, about all the normal everyday people who I am descended from.

    Imagine if you looked back into your family history and you found out your great-great-great grandfather was a lowlife pimp, or, even worse, some Hebrew money changer or activist for the Labor Party.

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