Have you ever noticed how intelligent people prefer to stay alone? It wasn’t uncommon for geniuses throughout history to stay alone and we’ve all been wondering why. Well, according to recent scientific research, there is a reason behind it.
It’s a well-known fact that exercise can reduce anxiety and that staying away from social media can improve our emotional well-being. Spending time in nature brings joy to most people, just like being around friends. That is unless you’re highly intelligent.
Intelligent people don’t socialize like the rest of us, and a recent scientific paper backed up this previously unsupported claim. Satoshi Kanazawa and Normal Li are the two scientists behind the paper that has revealed that intelligent people are not so fond of socializing with friends. The findings were rooted in evolutionary psychology, suggesting that our minds evolved as a quality for solving tough challenges. Highly intelligent people solved problems much better when they were alone instead of getting help from friends. Geniuses also feel much better when alone.
The Link Between Friendship, Population Density, Intelligence and Modern Happiness
After analyzing nearly 16,000 people aged 18-28 on life satisfaction, health and intelligence, the research found out that being around dense groups of people leads to unhappiness while socializing with a selected group of friends brings happiness unless you’re highly intelligent.
The Savanna Theory of Happiness
Li and Kanazawa explain their findings by summoning the so-called savanna theory of happiness. This idea is based on one’s life satisfaction not only based on current happenings, but also on our ancestor’s reaction in the past. This theory stems from evolutionary psychology, suggesting that our brains evolved and adapted to environmental conditions before society developed agriculture. This is why our brains can’t respond well to the unique conditions of modern society.
The authors of the study recognized 2 key factors unique to the modern era – population density and how frequently people socialize. Nowadays, we live in a world with a pretty dense population, much denser than what our ancestors experienced. We also spend less time with people than our ancestors, which means that most people are happier with what comes naturally for them – spending less time with people and more time with friends.
This, however, doesn’t apply to highly intelligent people. “Usually, geniuses have “unnatural” preferences not seen in our ancestors,” Kanazawa says. “It’s natural for humans to seek out friends, but highly intelligent people are more likely to seek less.”
Geniuses don’t even benefit from friendships like most people, even though they socialize more than less intelligent people.
The key area of the research focused on why we adapted to the quality of intelligence. According to scientists, intelligence evolved as a personality trait for problems solving. Our ancestors needed friends in order to survive – however, highly intelligent individuals were able to solve challenges completely on their own, which effectively diminished the need for friends.
So, if you know someone who can solve problems on his own without help from friends, they’re not weird – they may be highly intelligent.
Historically, humans lived in groups of 150 people or more. In the Neolithic Age, villages were about this size. The population density is much higher now and is believed to bring isolation and depression as it’s getting harder and harder to foster healthy relationships. The busy lifestyle of today doesn’t seem to affect highly intelligent people, though – they’re pretty fine on their own. As Kanazawa explains, the higher average intelligence in cities compared to rural areas is most like due to the fact that highly intelligent people can live in unnatural areas with high population density.
Not Wanting to Hang Out Doesn’t Make You A Genius
Of course, not liking to be around friends doesn’t mean you’re a genius. Although highly intelligent people have adapted to living in densely populated areas, it might be because of their chameleon nature which allows them to be comfortable in different situations.
This applies to the loners all of us know. These people aren’t always lonely and depressed – as a matter of fact, they may be like that because of their high intelligence.