Some studies have revealed that highly intelligent people might actually be happiest when they’re by themselves.
Some people are social butterflies that absolutely love hanging out with their large group of friends, but a study published last year found that not everyone is wired this way. In fact, highly intelligent people might actually be happiest when they’re by themselves.
The study focuses on the “savannah theory,” otherwise known as the “evolutionary legacy hypothesis.” This theory posits that people living in the modern world today have similar reactions to the happenings of their life as their ancestors would have had when man predominantly lived in the wild.
The study utilized data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), looking at over 15,000 individuals from the ages of 18 to 28. In the beginning, they were looking for some link between life satisfaction rates and population density, so they naturally compared results from people living in rural areas versus urban areas.
Overall, they discovered that people living in regions with larger population densities were more unhappy than those living in areas with fewer people. The researchers believe this is one detail that supports the savannah theory because of the unpredictability of large groups of people, and the fact that most of our ancestors evolved over time living in groups of people that rarely exceeded 150 people.
The study found that people with average intelligence actually disliked being in larger groups more so than anyone else and that highly intelligent people were better able to adapt to these large groups even though they preferred being alone a majority of the time.
The basic psychological needs that are fulfilled by friendships include having someone to relate with, the desire to be needed, and being able to share one’s experiences. When this is extrapolated, we also see that having friends in the group benefits survival due to help in areas such as hunting/food production, reproduction, and child-rearing.
While the study concludes that everyone benefits from having a few close relationships, rather than a lot of weak ones, smarter folks were found to be happier when completely alone. To make things a little more complicated, the study also found that greater amounts of time spent socializing is correlated with having higher intelligence.
Perhaps we should take away from this study the idea that smarter people enjoy socializing from time to time, but are ultimately their most happy when they are by themselves.
What do you think?