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.
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