Smart People Better Suited To Having Fewer Friends - Study

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Mar, 22, 2016, 06:08 AM
Tags : science
Social Connections
(Photo : Getty Images/Dan Kitwood) Smart people might be better off with fewer social connections, according to a new study.

Smart people might be better off with fewer social connections, according to a new study.

Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University delved into the definition of a life well lived, writes Stuff.

The researchers began with their theory that the ancient hunter-gatherer lifestyles lay the foundation for the current factors for happiness in modern life.

"Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors' life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," they write.

In the UK-based study, which involved 15,000 adult respondents aged between 18 and 28, the researchers uncovered two main findings.

The researchers found that people living in densely populated areas were less likely to report general satisfaction with their lives. They also found that people were more likely to self-report happiness if they had more social interactions with close friends.

Interestingly, the opposite was true for more intelligent people in most cases - with the correlations either lessened or reversed in those with higher intelligence levels.

"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 found. And "more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently."

While the main findings of the study have been reported by other studies prior to this one - the correlation between intelligence and happiness linked to friend and family connections is a little unexpected.

Kanazawa and Li use what they call the ‘savanna theory of happiness' to explain why intelligent people may react differently. The premise of their theory is that the human brain evolved to meet the demands of their African savanna environment, with a population density of less than one person per square kilometer. But many modern humans now live in densely populated areas like Manhattan, which has a population density of 27,685 people per square kilometer - meaning our brain biology may not have been able to keep up.

The same occurs with friendship: "Our ancestors lived as hunter-gatherers in small bands of about 150 individuals," Kanazawa and Li explain. "In such settings, having frequent contact with lifelong friends and allies was likely necessary for survival and reproduction for both sexes." 

As humans remain social creatures, our brain and bodies may be subjected to a "mismatch" between what our brains and bodies are designed to do - and the world we now occupy.

However, smarter people might have better mechanisms to deal with the evolutionary discord of modern day life.

"More intelligent individuals, who possess higher levels of general intelligence and thus greater ability to solve evolutionarily novel problems, may face less difficulty in comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations," they write.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychology.

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