Turns Out Blonde Ladies Are the Smartest

Photo: Westend61/Sinan Muslu/Corbis

The dumb-blonde myth is a pervasive one in Hollywood and society, one that stigmatizes fair-haired women — usually pretty ones — for being ditzy and airheaded. It’s the underlying character arc that drives the women in movies like “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and “Legally Blonde” to fight against stereotype and prove they’re just as smart as anybody out there. And turns out Lorelei Lee and Elle Woods were onto something: Blondes might be actually be the smartest ones in the room, at least as compared to other women.

Using survey data from baby-boomers, economist Jay Zagorsky of Ohio State University tackled the connection between blonde hair and intelligence, publishing his results in this month’s Economics Bulletin. Zagorsky selected a group of people using the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) for 1979, when participants were between 14 and 21 years old; since then, they’ve been periodically interviewed (as of the research, at least 26 times).

Zagorsky combined NLSY data on hair color and IQ tests in search of a correlation between the two and came upon a surprising conclusion: among Caucasian people — the only group studied since most blonde-haired people are white — those born with blonde hair actually had the highest average IQ scores of all women. Blond-haired men didn’t do too badly themselves, as you can see from the results:

These are, of course, a correlations drawn from a single study. They doesn’t show a definitive causal connection between hair color and intelligence, nor should anyone expect that there is one. So all you brunettes and redheads and raven-haired folk, relax.

Turns Out Blonde Ladies Are the Smartest