Better for Smart People to Have Fewer Friends, Study Shows Why

By Kanika Gupta - 19 Mar '16 15:42PM

New research published by British Journal of Psychology last month shared an interesting fact, smart people are better off with less number of friends. Satoshi Kanazawa, Psychologist from London School of Economics and Normal Li, Singapore Management University, look deeper into a rhetorical question - what makes life well-lived?

This question has long slipped over from sphere of priests, novelists, philosophers to researchers, biologists, scientists, and economists, who have been trying to answer this question too.
According to Li and Kanazawa, it is the hunter-gatherer lifestyle that our ancestors followed thousands of years ago forms the basis of our happiness today. "Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors' life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," they write.

According to their study, "the Savanna theory of Happiness", they explain two main deductions formed from their analysis of 15,000 participants aged between 18 and 28.
First thing that the study noted was that people living in densely populated areas report less satisfaction with their life in general. "The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy" said survey respondents. Another point that the study discovered was that when the social interactions were limited to close friends, they reported greater self happiness.

However, the only exception to these findings were intelligent people. For them either the correlation did not exist or in some cases even reversed.
"The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals," they found. And "more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently."

A possible explanation of this behavior is that highly intelligent people are probably occupied with a non-social pursuit which makes them feel more satisfied than hanging out with friends. Another explanation is "savanna theory of happiness" that reveals that human brains are hardwired to living amongst small nomadic group of about 150 people. This makes modern lifestyle rather unsuitable for human satisfaction levels. However, researchers also suggest that smart people are able to adapt to the evolutionary tendencies, which means less need for social interaction.

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