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Why people with high IQs are happier with less social interaction

For hermits and homebodies, happiness and socialization may not intertwine

Photo (c) zimmytws - Fotolia
If your idea of the perfect night is more solitary than social, you may be a regular Einstein. People with higher IQs are happier with less social interaction, a new study suggests.

In an effort to zero in on the relationship between friendship and overall life satisfaction, evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa and Norman Li examined data from a survey of 15,000 adults. The data revealed two underlying themes.

First: dense, city living may not exactly be conducive to happiness. And second, greater life satisfaction tends to come as a result of increased social interactions -- but not in every case.

Urban living Vs. Rural living

Where you live may play a big role in how happy you are, the study finds. Participants who lived in urban areas reported lower levels of happiness than those who lived in rural areas.

In breaking down why this might be, the researchers cited “the savanna theory of happiness,” which states that man’s early hunter-gatherer days probably had more of a small town vibe, which we may still subconsciously covet today.

"Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors' life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," the authors wrote.

But while small town experiences and increased social interactions are pleasing to many, they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea.

High-IQ individuals

Interestingly, the data revealed that highly intelligent people became less satisfied the more time they spent with friends.

"The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals," the researchers wrote, adding that life satisfaction in highly intelligent people dropped the more frequently they socialized with friends.

Why might this be? To find out, the Washington Post sought the expertise of Brookings Institution researcher Carol Graham, who suggested that brainiacs may be too focused on long-term goals to enjoy the frivolity of socialization.

"The findings in here 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," said Graham.

The study has been published in the British Journal of Psychology.

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