One motivation for trying recreational drugs is the desire for novel experiences. More intelligent people tend to value novelty more highly and may therefore be more likely to have tried recreational drugs. Using data from a national survey, it is shown that intelligence tends to be positively related to the probabilities of having tried alcohol, marijuana, cocaine and several other recreational drugs. Evidence is also presented that those relationships typically disappear or change sign at high levels of intelligence. These patterns persist after accounting for a wide range of personal characteristics.
In addition to greater openness, the results point to hedonism among smart people. The authors speculate that drug use drops among those with the highest IQs because this is a rare trait that may be socially isolating (there is a strong social component to the consumption of drugs).