What’s true of most every man who ends up in the hospital after a fight?


They probably aren’t very intelligent. Smart guys don’t get in many fights:


To examine the association between low intelligence (IQ) and increased risk of assault. Previous studies have been relatively small, have not adjust for socioeconomic status, and have not examined method-specific assaults.


Cox proportional hazards regression was used to explore IQ associations with assault by any means and by four specific methods in a large prospective cohort of 1,120,988 Swedish men. Study members had IQ measured in early adulthood and were well characterized for socioeconomic status in childhood and adulthood. Men were followed-up for an average of 24 years, and hospital admissions for injury due to assault were recorded.


A total of 16,512 (1.5%) men had at least one hospital admission for injury due to assault by any means during follow-up. The most common assault was during a fight (n = 13,144), followed by stabbing (n = 1,211), blunt instrument (b = 352), and firearms assaults (n = 51). After adjusting for confounding variables, lower IQ scores were associated with an elevated risk of hospitalization for assaults by any means (hazard ratio per standard deviation decrease in IQ, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.49, 1.54) and for each of the cause-specific assaults: fight: 1.48 (1.45, 1.51); stabbing: 1.68 (1.58, 1.79); blunt instrument: 1.65 (1.47, 1.85); and firearms: 1.34 (1.00, 1.80). These gradients were stepwise across the full IQ range.


Low IQ scores in early adulthood were associated with a subsequently increased risk of assault. A greater understanding of mechanisms underlying these associations may provide opportunities and strategies for prevention.

Source: “Intelligence in early adulthood and subsequent risk of assault: cohort study of 1,120,998 Swedish men.” from Psychosom Med. 2010 May;72(4):390-6.


Smart people don’t start many bar fights. But stupid people don’t build many hydrogen bombs.

– P.J. O’Rourke

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