For some people, hanging out with a large group of people is equivalent to torture — even if they have known them for quite a long time and consider them close friends. Interestingly, that feeling of utter gloom and misery, according to scientists, might have something to do with one’s level of intelligence.
Evolutionary psychologists from Singapore and London, studying the effects of friendship on life satisfaction and overall happiness, have found that people will higher IQ find it difficult to engage in social interaction even with their close friends.
The study, published in British Journal of Psychology, backs up the fictional archetype of “smart person with almost no friends” by suggesting the lifestyle of our hunter-gatherer ancestors forms the foundation of what makes us happy now.
“Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors' life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today,” the researchers wrote.
To come to this conclusion, Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Political Science and Norman Li of Singapore Management University conducted a survey involving 15,000 people between the age of 18 and 28.
The people living in urban areas reported less satisfaction with their life compared to those dwelling in rural areas. Also, the more interaction an average respondent had with his or her close friends, the greater their self-reported happiness was. However, that correlation was completely reversed for intelligent people.
“The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals,” they added. “More intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.”
The scientists applied a concept called "the savanna theory of happiness" to explain their findings, and measured intelligence through IQ levels, where the baseline was considered 100 while genius level was at 140.
“The findings in here suggest — and it is no surprise — that those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it ... are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective,” opined Carol Grahams, an expert who studies the economics of happiness at Brookings Institution.
Although there must be other factors affecting people's level of satisfaction and happiness, this study at least proves that not wanting to spend time with friends doesn’t make one loner; it just proves they may be smarter.