Long-term study of Harvard men yields insights on how humans flourish

Published: Friday, April 26 2013 8:15 p.m. MDT

One of the longest-running studies to ever look closely at a single group of people has found that political leanings don't determine how happy you are. But the warmth of your relationships do, and they influence health, too.

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One of the longest-running studies to ever look closely at a single group of people has found that political leanings don't determine how happy you are. But the warmth of your relationships do — and they influence health, too.

The Grant study tracked 268 male Harvard undergrads for three-quarters of a century. Among the things that were learned, according to an article by The Atlantic's Scott Stossel: Alcohol destroys, moms matter and "happiness is love."

One of the study's directors, George Vaillant, led the research gatherers for more than 30 years and he recently published a summation of the findings in the form of a book, "Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study."

The researchers found that alcoholism caused more divorce among the study subjects and their wives than any other factor. Alcohol use and smoking, which often went together, killed more of those who are already dead than anything else.

Stossel noted some of the findings, including the fact that "above a certain level, intelligence doesn't matter." Along those lines, he also noted that when it comes to top earnings, there's little difference for men with IQs in the 110-15 range and those with IQs above 150.

What made a difference there, too, Vaillant was quoted in the article, was relationships. Those with warm relationships earned more money at their peak than those without good relationships. Also, men who had warm relationships with their moms as children earned significantly more than those with moms who were uncaring.

EMAIL: lois@desnews.com, Twitter: Loisco

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