Intelligence and temperament as protective factors for mental health. A cross-sectional and prospective epidemiological study

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The Sjöbring system of personality dimensions measuring intellectual capacity, activity, impulsivity and sociability was used to study possible “salutogenic” (i.e. causes of health) effects. The study comprised 590 subjects investigated in 1947, 1957, 1972 and 1988–1989 in the Lundby project, an epidemiological study in Sweden. Psychiatric diagnoses were made in 1947, 1957 and 1972. Mental health was estimated in 1988–1989 using the concept “love well, work well, play well and expect well”. The Sjöbring dimensions were clinically assessed in 1972. Both in the concurrent study in 1972 and in the prospective study in 1988–1989 “super capacity” (high intellectual function), “super validity” (high activity level) and “super solidity” (low impulsivity) were statistically associated with lower frequencies of certain psychiatric diagnoses and a higher frequency of positive mental health. These variables are proposed to increase coping capacity, and therefore increase stress resilience.