A wealth of studies has indicated that greater cognitive ability is related to healthier behaviors and outcomes throughout the lifespan. In the present paper, we focus on objective numeracy (ability with numbers) and present findings from a study conducted in the Peruvian Highlands that examines the relations among formal education, numeracy, other more general cognitive skills, and a sex-related protective behavior (condom use). Our results show a potential unique protective effect of numeracy on this health-protective behavior even after accounting for measures of fluid intelligence and potential confounding factors. These results add to a growing literature highlighting the robust protective effect on health behaviors of greater cognitive skills that are enhanced through schooling. Challenges for future research will be identifying the causal mechanisms that underlie these effects and translating this knowledge into effective interventions for improving health.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Infectious Diseases