People with anxiety often lament its disadvantages, but researchers say certain levels of anxiety may be indicative of higher verbal, sentinel and social intelligence.
Anxiety, a feeling of unease or nervousness, is a normal emotion that afflicts human beings in the face of an imminent event or uncertain outcome. Extreme anxiety can come in the form of several types of disorders that include panic, social anxiety or a specific phobia. Though these types of mental illnesses can be crippling to a person’s life, researchers linked certain levels of anxiety to higher levels of IQ, sentinel intelligence and gifted social-cognitive abilities.
The possible underlying link between anxiety and verbal intelligence tests was examined in a research study by Lakehead University. Researchers found a positive relationship between verbal intelligence and generalized anxiety disorder, meaning those with anxiety scored higher on the tests.
A second study by SUNY Downstate Medical Centre in New York revealed that those who suffered most from common anxiety disorder had a higher IQ than those whose symptoms were less severe. Published in Frontiers in Evolutionary Neuroscience, the findings suggest that worrying was developed as a beneficial trait that ensured human survival.
Another study in 2012 published in the European Journal of Social Psychology discovered that individuals rated high in attachment-related anxiety had a heightened level of sentinel intelligence. This meant they were able to detect threats and deliver warning messages quicker and without delay to others.
Surprisingly enough, people with social phobia or social anxiety exhibit increased empathic abilities. According to a research study published by the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Biotechnology Information, those with social phobia have higher sensitivity and attentiveness to the states of minds of others. The team wrote in their conclusion:
“Results support the hypothesis that high socially anxious individuals may demonstrate a unique social-cognitive abilities profile with elevated empathy tendencies and high accuracy in effective mental state attributions.”
Scientists called these individuals gifted empaths who have the unique ability to perceive the physical sensitivities, spiritual urges, motivations and intentions of those around them.
Though anxiety is often perceived as a negative emotion, perhaps there are some positive qualities to it after all.