General mental ability as related to school, work and health : The importance of childhood mental ability for work-related factors among middle-aged women and men
Abstract: General mental ability (GMA) has been found to be important for adjustment and achievement in school and at work. GMA has been linked to various health outcomes, although the research linking it to school-, work-, and health-related outcomes among working adults is still limited. Using data from the longitudinal research program Individual Development and Adaptation (IDA), this thesis investigates how childhood GMA relates to satisfaction with school and work, psychosocial factors at work, and self-reported health outcomes among working adults. The findings showed that the associations between GMA and satisfaction were weak, while those between GMA and achievement and between achievement and satisfaction were stronger. Also, early experiences of achievement and satisfaction at school were linked to adult work life. Analyses taking into account the importance of different occupational levels and areas replicated previous research by underscoring the importance of occupational level. An examination of the importance of GMA and psychosocial work characteristics on a set of health indicators showed no consistent effects of childhood GMA on self-reported health in terms of anxiety, musculoskeletal disorders, self-rated health, and sense of coherence. But in line with previous findings, psychosocial work characteristics were associated with self-reports of health. Here, controlling for occupational level did not change the overall strenght of the relations. To conclude, while the results suggest that the importance of GMA for school and job satisfaction are mediated by other factors, the overall findings indicate that the effects of childhood GMA on various aspects of functioning in midlife are weak – a finding that may follow from the studies focusing exclusively on a Swedish cohort of well-functioning, working and healthy women and men.
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