Have you ever dreamt of being a hermit?
Would you rather live in a countryside cabin than in the heart of town?
Would you rather have your nose in a book than throw a party and invite your friends over?
Do you sometimes want to hide when someone rings your doorbell unexpected?
If this sounds like you, I have some good news. You’re not anti-social. In fact, you might just be a genius.
Intelligent people socialize less
According to an NCBI study, people who are highly intelligent tend to socialize less than those scoring lower on the intelligence scale. Interestingly, their life satisfaction appears to be unaffected by their more secluded lifestyle.
According to lead researchers Satoshi Kanazawa and Norman Li, for those seeking happiness, the “hermit in the woods” strategy might be the way to go – especially for people who are highly intelligent.
Through thorough research, these evolutionary psychologists have been able to determine that those of us living in less densely populated areas tend to be generally happier. They have also found out that when it comes to socializing, quality matters more than quantity.
We are happier when we communicate more with our close friends and family, rather than with strangers, co-workers, distant relatives, or acquaintances.
For the majority of the participants in the study, more frequent social interactions would generally make them happier, with the exception of those scoring high on the intelligence scale. In fact, as regards the most highly intelligent of the participants, this effect was not only diminished, but actually reversed.
As the researchers explained, “More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.”
Carol Graham, who studies the economics of happiness, has examined this effect in a Washington Post article. “The findings 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,” she maintains.
In other words, that nerd who says they have better things to do than hang out with friends is actually on to something.
Going back to our roots
In interpreting the results of this study, evolutionary psychologists have found out that they pertain, to a great extent, to the so-called Savannah Theory of Happiness. This theory holds that we find happiness in the same things that used to make our ancestors happy. In the savannah, population density would have been low, and interpersonal interaction would have been incredibly important for survival.
This study’s results, although ultimately in support of that theory, suggest that the most highly intelligent people may have evolved past the need for frequent social interaction.
Instead, they have come to prefer activities that tend to be more intellectually and economically oriented.
These activities promote our personal development in the modern world. We need to interact with one another less than our ancestors did, so the most highly intelligent of us have ceased to prioritize the need for socializing.
So, the next time you opt to stay home instead of hitting the club, don’t feel weird about it. Feel smart. You are an evolutionary groundbreaker.
In view of the above observations, I would like to emphasize that not all loners and weirdos are highly intelligent, although some of them could be.
Some of them may be just as stupid as they look, and even more so!