Are People With Big Heads Smarter?

Do you have a big head… or a big forehead? I do on both accounts, and until now it’s been a point of embarrassment for me – especially as my hairline recedes. My wife jokes about my head being my most dangerous weapon if I have to defend our family. I usually say it’s because I have a big brain and a normal one can’t contain all my thoughts and ideas. Although I do occasionally think about knocking out an intruder with my noggin (it’s the father in me). So does the size of your head play a part in your overall intelligence? Well, I found this answer from a reputable outfit called Science Netlinks:  “The most we can say about brain size and intelligence is that by and large, all other things being equal, people who have larger brains tend to have slightly higher I.Q.’s than people with smaller brains.” Science Netlinks goes onto say that “Jonathan Swift (the author of Gulliver’s Travels) had a big honkin’ brain, at the top end of all the brains ever measured. Does that mean Swift was the smartest man who ever lived? He was certainly a bright guy, but it’s hard to get behind any statement so extreme.”

I rather like that explanation, as I’ve got the head of an NFL nose tackle on the body of a receiver (and I’m assuming big head = big brain). But as with many things it’s helpful to look for an opposing viewpoint and then compare the strength of each side’s data. I found that researchers from The Queensland Institute for Medical Research tested 4395 teenagers for a link between head size and intelligence and they found no relation. (Shucks!) Read what they found.

So it seems those with big heads can side with the Swift story, and those with small heads can point to the research out of Australia. I say start noticing the head sizes of the smartest people you know and see if you find any correlation for yourself! Let me know what you find out… the first few people that come to my mind all have large heads – although maybe that’s just my perspective!

To see a brain’s various functional areas, check out this diagram:

Chad Fife leads Marketing at Pearson TalentLens. Connect with Chad on and Twitter.

13 responses to “Are People With Big Heads Smarter?”

  1. Heather Ishikawa

    I also suffer from a big forehead. My ego likes the findings of this research.

  2. breannepotter

    What if you have a small head, but big forehead? Does it all even out to just average IQ?
    This week I asked my dentist about veneers because I have small teeth. He explained that the problem isn’t really my teeth, it’s my disproportioned head. No joke. He explained that the distance from your hairline to the top of your nose should be equal to the distance from the top of your nose to your upper lip, which should be the same distance as the top of your lip to your chin (essentially dividing your face into 3 equal parts). When I go see my dentist again, I’ll explain that my large forehead isn’t the problem. My high IQ is the problem! :)

  3. Andrew

    you can have a biggest brain in the world and not do anything with it….

    on a serious not I have a big forehead, but people like einstien, had very average brains, the differrence in them and other people? nothing, they just used it differently. I tend to think all these type studies are superficial, and feed ignorance, and egos.

    the only thing that makes people smarter is they think, and use thier brains to thier fullest potential they can.I mean real thinking, not memorizing smart peoples work.

  4. Cody

    Obviously head size correlates to cognitive ability, even if it’s not IQ exactly. If the human brain could be smaller and just as efficient, then all human brains would be smaller, take less energy, and give women a whole heck of an easier time pushing them backwards through the small vaginal opening.

    A piece of information you might find interesting comes from the early 1900′s, when doctors performed frontal lobotomies. Even though the procedure essentially consisted of destroying the frontal lobes, a sizable part of the brain, the result had no appreciable impact on IQ. So, either the frontal lobes were completely useless for cognitive functioning, or IQ is not a comprehensive measure.

    I have a below average sized head. As I hope you can see, I am not stupid. However, I have spent a lot of time reading, studying, and in general working to acquire cognitive skills. Anyone at the gym who works his butt off on a schedule is probably going to be stronger than someone who doesn’t. And anyone who studies is going to make more connections and develop more academic ability than someone who doesn’t.

    So, the point is that having a larger brain, unless it is a diseased brain, is never a bad characteristic. Christopher Langdon, at least, doesn’t feel embarrassed about his +6 SD noggin’, or his 200+ IQ. But larger brain size might be conferring some cognitive advantage not related to IQ. This might be, for instance, greater capacity for political ability. Or a greater ability to find a sustain a sexual partner.

  5. Larry

    Being born with a big head is far less important than having good growth as you progress through childhood. During the first year of life, babies’ brains double in size, and by the time they are six, their brain weight has tripled. These are the crucial years for laying down brain cells and neural connections.

  6. Lucas

    Ok, listen up. I have a large head, and not only that but my body is small so it makes the head look even bigger. All my life I’ve been ashamed of how I look and I hardly ever go out. I’ve spent my live in my parents house. If anybody wants a pic let me know, I am serious. I avoid mirrors because it ruines my mood every time I see my reflection. I’m a freak of nature and I accepted that. Sounds funny but it’s hell and than God for the internet or I don’t know what else would I do all day. God also gave me big head -_-

    1. John

      If a big head means your smarter, then little people should be surpassing everyone else in intellect. The have very large heads in proportion to their bodies.

  7. headman

    I have a big head too. I feel like i am normal for a few months but then i listen to some people laughing about me then i go back to depression mode. Its tough because i want to date and have a relationship but sometimes the laughs comes from girls and im thinking “what can i do?” “how i can deal with it?” “will i find someone one day”. Thank you for reading this, i just needed to tell someone.

    1. Jesse

      I too have a big head and people say stuff like bobble head or mean stuff like that but I’m thinking that they must be jealous to say something or just straight up a-holes. I hope I made you feel better that you’re not alone going threw this, lol I’d rather have a “big head” over a pin head.

  8. Minh

    comparing genius’s brain size has nothing to do with the assumption that big head is smarter, big head means you are smarter in some degree but it take a SPECIAL REGION of the brain bigger than normal to be a genius.Also, there are more people with average head than big headed so the number of geniuses with normal brain size is higher than bigger brain. Research Einstein brain found that he has normal brain size but his special region which function is to do Math and get to know abstract idea is bigger than normal people, that what makes him more intelligent.In conclusion, people with bigger head has more chance to have more talent than normal people because of overall bigger brain. but not at the level of amazingly intelligent.

  9. Niko

    Shame on you :) You totally hen pecked the info you wanted from that Netlinks. You fail to mention the other parts this article mentions. Oh, you know, the part that says: “Even then, the relationship between brain size and intelligence is pretty weak, and there are lots of exceptions. ” And “Also, don’t forget that these studies measure intelligence in terms of I.Q. score—a useful scale, but not necessarily the final word on how smart someone is. Many successful, shrewd, creative, and intelligent people have only average I.Q.’s, while many people with high I.Q.’s are underachievers. ” And we all know that culture and environment have a lot to do with how someone does on an IQ test. If people with brown skin do better on IQ tests and we do a study that people with darker skin are smarter, well then…

  10. chadfife

    In The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg says this: “Habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. An efficient brain requires less room, which makes for a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths.” Interesting.

  11. James

    I was never really aware I had a large head until I was outfitted for my graduation cap, and they couldn’t find any size that could fit me (I’m just not a hat person.) I’m rather tall (about 6.2) so my head size blended fairly well with the rest of my body, and nobody has ever pointed out to me that I have a rather bizarrely large head.

    Having said that, I suppose having a bigger head might help to explain some of the differences in functioning I tend to see between myself and many others, which have always stuck me as very odd. I was never identified as a “gifted kid” in school, though there was never anything wrong with my ability to comprehend things; rather, I seem to have an extremely intense and vivid imagination, far more vivid what seems ordinary, and interests in very unusual things (philosophy, the Dark Romanticism of Edgar Allan Poe, extreme creativity, art, blueprinting, etc.) Most people I know seem to care very little about many of my stranger interests (for example my interest in the philosophical nature of Truth, for Truth’s own sake), and I often get weird looks and people turning away should I ever mention these things in public (or anywhere.)

    My girlfriend ( who, interestingly, also has a rather large head) is fascinated by my thinking, saying that other guys she has known in her life often just tended to bore her; with me, she says there’s always something weird and new that I’m discovering or thinking about. Aside from her, I really have never met anyone else – although I’m sure such people exist – whose unusual interests drive them to such extremes of thought, and to such depths of reasoning on the essences of so many unusual subjects.

    Left to my own devices, I can remain alone in my house for months on end (when not working), simply sitting in the quiet and thinking, without ever becoming bored. Sometimes I write (I have finished seven novels and five different books on various subjects in philosophy, although I have not bothered publishing anything), but mostly I just prefer to think. Most people I know tend to get very depressed and upset when sitting at home alone for months and months on end, but this is never the case for me. I am happiest this way, and life is never dull.

    I don’t really know what any of this means, or why I have these unusual interests, but I suppose a big head and brain might account for some of the drive, the hunger, and the capacity for these various things.

    Someone else here mentioned the remarkably large brain of Chris Langan, the man with the supposedly highest IQ in America – that his head was 6 standard deviations larger than the average human skull. Langan seems the believe there is something to the idea that a larger brain equals greater brain power (relative to one’s body size), and perhaps there is something to this. I have never thought about myself this way before, that a larger head means a more powerful brain, I just mainly do whatever I like. But the research is interesting, and it’s just something else to think about.

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