Why smart people tend to be loners

By Daily Mail

Smart people may be far happier with their own company than meeting friends.

A new study has found that for intelligent people, the more frequently they socialise with friends, the less satisfied they are with life.

The findings come from two evolutionary psychologists who challenge the modern view that the more social contact we have the happier we will likely be.

Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University propose that the core social skills developed in our ancient past still hold sway over our happiness today.

They propose that the ‘savannah theory’ is at the root of modern happiness. This theory dictates that the factors which made early humans satisfied are still true with modern life.

Using data from a large long-term study, which surveyed adults from 18 to 28, they applied the theory to explain the findings of self-reported levels of life satisfaction.

The pair focused on just two of myriad factors, which they say characterise basic differences between modern life and the way our ancestors lived – population density and how frequently we interact with friends

As might be expected, they found people living in more densely populated areas reported lower levels of life satisfaction.

For anyone who braves the daily grind of the rush hour commute in a city, this is no surprise.

Also as we might expect, more frequent socialisation with friends had a more positive association with levels of life satisfaction.

But these two factors interact strongly with intelligence.

The authors explained that ‘among the extremely intelligent’ more frequent social interaction is actually linked with reduced satisfaction.

According to the Washington Post’s Wonkblog, self-reported happiness is higher in small towns than in cities, which previous research has outlined as the ‘urban-rural happiness gradient’.

Kanazawa and Li’s approach suggests the brains of our hunter-gatherer ancestors were perfectly adapted to life on the African savannah, where there population would have been sparse, living in groups of around 150.

Social interaction would have been crucial to survival, in terms of co-operation and finding a mate, but the space was equally important.

The pair believe there may be a mismatch between the way we have evolved and the rapid lives we lead today ­– where society has left our minds and bodies struggling to keep up.

The researchers believe smarter individuals may be able to better adapt to the challenges of modern life, and may find it easier to leave ancestral social roots behind in order to forge ahead.

For the most intelligent among us, it may be that there is conflict between aspiring to greater goals and being tied to our evolutionary past.

Kanazawa has caused controversy in the past with a blog post on the attractiveness of women based on race.

However, the latest findings have been peer-reviewed and published in the British Journal of Psychology.

  

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