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Brainiac or Just Another Introvert? Psychologists Find That Intelligent People Are Happier When They Socialize Less

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Brainiac or Just Another Introvert? Psychologists Find That Intelligent People Are Happier When They Socialize Less

It’s Saturday night, most of your friends are heading out to the coolest restaurants and bars in town to have some fun. Meanwhile, you are alone at home, in a cozy outfit and finishing up the latest project that you have been working on for the past few weeks. You start to wonder if you were born to be a loner, even though you do enjoy every single moment spent with your friends.

But every time if you have to make a choice between work and socializing, you would go for the former one. Achieving a goal or completing a task always triggers an unmatched sense of fulfillment and excitement in you.

So, is something wrong with you? Psychologists do not think so.

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Psychologists believe such mentality could be a sign of high intelligence.

In February, Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics, together with Norman Li of Singapore Management University, published a research in the British Journal of Psychology, suggesting that,

More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.(Li & Kanazawa, 2016)

To put it in a nutshell, exceptionally smart people may feel happier when they are less socially active. The team also looked into the correlation between the level of satisfaction, population density and IQ performance.

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In contrast, in a county with high population density (937 persons/km2 , one standard deviation above the mean), more intelligent individuals had higher mean life satisfaction than less intelligent individuals did. (Li & Kanazawa, 2016)

Average people enjoy greater satisfaction living in rural areas than in densely populated cities. But for the really smart ones? They are urban dwellers.

The difference could be caused by our response to the ancestral environment.

A possible explanation for such differences between average people and brainiacs is the “savanna theory of happiness”. Coined by Kanazawa in 2014, the theory argues that despite the evolution in humans, some of our behaviors still respond to the ancestral environment.

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In other words, as our ancestors lived in an environment where social interaction was essential to survival, we humans living in the modern society still prefer frequent socializing even it is no longer for the purpose of survival. But highly intelligent people are able to adapt to an environment that is vastly different from the ancestral one, as Kanazawa proposed in his 2004 study that intelligence is actually the capability for adapting to novel conditions.

Although the theory needs further study and development, it is reasonable to believe that there is a certain relation between one’s level of intelligence and the status of his/her social life. Here are the three ways of how they could be related:

1. You are intelligent if you are able to cope with loneliness.

While we can yet be certain about the savanna theory of happiness now, there is no doubt that humans are social animals. Social interactions make up a crucial part of our lives. But you do not put too great of an emphasis on social life and genuinely enjoy yourself, it may indicate your ability to overcome the urge to socialize that is hard-wired in us. Your brain could be operating in a way that is different from the rest of us!

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2. You believe in your own abilities because you are intelligent.

As we are all social animals, frequent interaction with those who are close to us could mean a source of happiness and emotional support. Many of us may spend a lot of time socializing, trying to build bonds with one another. But if you firmly believe that you are capable of tackling most of the situations on life on your own, it implies that you have confidence in your abilities. As a result, you may not dedicate as much time in socializing as we do!

3. You understand the meaning of priority because your intelligence teaches you how.

Since social interaction is not your main source of happiness, you probably would put other things, such as your work, above socializing. Inside your head, you may have got a clear list of priorities. That could make you stand out from a lot of us, who believe that having an active social life is just as important as pursuing our goals and career. You may be identified as a high achiever who is goal-oriented and committed to advancing your career. After all, you could be one of those experts in time management!

So next time when you turn down an invitation to a house party because of work, there is no need to feel guilty, as that could just be your intelligent brain functioning!

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