BY AIMÉE LUTKIN
Today in emotionally validating science, new research indicates that smart people do better with fewer friends. A study conducted by evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University, and published in the British Journal of Psychology, indicates that the reason no one wants to hang out with you definitely is because you’re a smart ass—but it’s okay.
Evolutionary psychology is often questioned, since it presumes that what made our hunting and gathering ancestors happy is what would suit us now even after thousands of years of learning to wear pants. Kanazawa and Li were basing their research off the “savannah theory of happiness,” which refers to the fact that people who live in more densely populated cities usually report less satisfaction with their lives than folks living in bucolic isolation. This graph from The Washington Post makes the correlation clear:
At the same time, people self-report themselves as happier if they have lots of social interactions. So, riding on a sardine-level packed subway car=bad. Hanging with your pals IRL=good.
Apparently, if you’re a real brainiac, none of this applies to you. They write:
The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals… more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently...
Smart people still enjoy wide open spaces, much more even than their less bright neighbors, but when they hang with friends they’re less happy. One theory as to why is that they feel like they’re wasting time. Smart people are usually working on something, and they don’t want hang out drinking spiked Slurpees in the 7-Eleven parking lot. They need to create, dammit!
Another aspect to the puzzle is how quickly techonology has changed the social world in the last hundred years. iPhones may make some people feel isolated and cut off from that sweet, sweet human interaction. Stupid people. Smart people adapt. The scientists write:
More intelligent individuals, who possess higher levels of general intelligence and thus greater ability to solve evolutionarily novel problems, may face less difficulty in comprehending and dealing with evolutionarily novel entities and situations.
Now, this may all sound great, if you’re an isolated person who loves staring at their phone and has always considered themselves a tortured genius. Here’s the bad news: evolutionary psychology is introduced us to the nonesene that is the paleo-diet.
And Kanazawa is also the author of the hideously racist article, “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” that for some reason was posted in Psychology Today. It’s possible that he came up with this study to justify his own lack of friendships since then. Maybe he should try studying himself in the mirror? [h/t The Washington Post]
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