Big heads are the smart ones, but pointy heads are not

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The Independent Online

Bigheads really do have something to brag about - they are cleverer, say scientists.

Bigheads really do have something to brag about - they are cleverer, say scientists.

A team of psychologists in America have found that people with big heads, especially fat heads, are more likely to have higher IQs than those with smaller heads. But pointy heads - people with taller as opposed to wider heads of academic inclination - may be the least intellectually endowed of all.

Although it is known that people with larger brains can be more intelligent, probably because they have more brain cells, the role of head size itself has been less well studied. Some, indeed, have believed head size to be independent of brain size, arguing along the lines of big garages not necessarily having big cars inside.

But the researchers from the University of Western Ontario set out to show that bigger really is better. They measured pairs of brothers aged 20 to 35, noting the width, depth and height of their heads, and scanned their brains to calculate brain volume. After taking the measurements, the psychologists put the men through a battery of intelligence and cognition tests. They found that greater width, length and perimeter all pointed to greater intelligence.

Reporting their findings in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers said: "A larger head size indicates greater intelligence. Overall, the indication is quite clear that the size of the head predicts the size of the brain." However, they noted: "Oddly, head height was negatively correlated with IQ.''

The widest head in their study group measured 16cm between ears, and the narrowest, 13.5cm. Length, from front to back, ranged from 21.2cm and 18.2cm. The tallest was 17cm, and the shortest, 14.6cm.

There was a crumb of comfort for small headed men: although size can matter, not all big-headed men are necessarily geniuses. Indeed, some may well be fatheads in the more traditional sense of the word.