I’m one of those people who has a few close friends as opposed to a bunch of friends – whether in real life or the virtual one. Turns out I’m smart!
Wait, I’m not bragging, just citing a new study.
A new study has found that smart people may be happier in their own company than meeting and socializing with friends. It found that for intelligent people, the frequency of socializing is inversely proportional to their happiness. That is, the more frequently they socialize with friends, the less satisfied with life they are.
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The study was conducted by evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Normal Li of Singapore Management University, and was published in the British Journal of Psychology. These two psychologists challenge the modern view that more social contact = the happier people will likely be.
Kanazawa and Li propose that the social skills developed by our ancestors in the ancient past still hold sway over our happiness today. A proposed theory called the ‘savannah theory’ is at the root of modern happiness. This theory suggests that the factors which made our ancestors satisfied and happy are still true with modern life.
The psychologists used data from a large long-term study, which asked adults from 18 to 28 to report their levels of satisfaction. And then, the savannah theory was applied to their responses.
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The pair focused their efforts and based their analysis on just two of myriad factors, which are the main differences between the way early humans lived and the way we live – one, population density and two, how frequently we interact with friends.
Predictably, participants who lived in densely populated areas reported lower levels of life satisfaction. Also, more frequent socialization with friends had a positive effect on the levels of life satisfaction reported.
However, these two factors strongly interact with intelligence. The study noted,
“More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.”
Kanazawa and Li’s approach is suggestive of the fact that the brains of the hunter-gatherer early humans were perfectly adapted to life on the African savannah, with them living in fairly large groups and the population would have been sparse. Hence, social interaction was a necessity for survival, in terms of co-operation and finding a mate, but the space was equally important.
The researchers believe that there may be a disconnect between the way we have evolved and the fast-paced lives we lead. They believe that intelligent people may be better able to adapt to challenges of modern life, and that they’re not as tied to humanity’s evolutionary predilections. This means that intelligent people may not need as much social interaction as the rest do.
So if you have a few close friends and would rather stay at home curled up on your couch with a book or catching up on your writing, don’t worry. You’re probably just very intelligent! 😉
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