The more that intelligent people socialise with their friends, the less satisfied they are with life, new research finds.
The finding challenges the accepted idea that socialising generally makes people happier.
It may be that for some people — especially those with high intelligence — socialising does not increase life satisfaction.
The possible reason why is intriguing…
The long-term study followed adults aged between 18 and 28-years-old.
It looked at the density of the population and people’s satisfaction with life.
The results showed that, in general, people who lived in less densely populated areas were more satisfied with life.
As the authors themselves explain:
“Residents of rural areas and small towns are happier than those in suburbs, who in turn are happier than those in small central cities, who in turn are happier than those in large central cities.”
It also showed that the more that most people socialised, the happier they were.
The exception was for people with high intelligence.
The explanation is that with intelligence comes more of a focus on long-term projects and goals.
Socialising may provide a distraction from these types of long-term satisfying projects.
The authors also provide an evolutionary explanation for why smart people may find socialising doesn’t make them as happy as other people.
The idea, they say, is that higher intelligence allows smarter people to better adapt to the modern world.
The human race is no longer a hunter-gatherer species that needs close contact with its social group.
Intelligent people, they say, are better able adapt to the new, less pack-oriented, way of living.
Whatever you may think of the evolutionary explanation, the ideas are certainly fascinating.
The study was published in the British Journal of Psychology (Li & Kanazawa, 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
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