Smart people want fewer friends. That’s what the research says. Published research in the British Journal of Psychology no less.
It’s no secret, and in fact it has been proven countless times, that having friends and interacting with them regularly helps with people’s happiness and feelings of well-being. Friends are as beneficial to your health as quitting smoking, and isolated people run twice the risk of dying from heart disease than those with a solid circle of friends.
But this new research (taken from 15,000 participants aged 18-28) found that shrinking the friendship circle made the smarter ones in the group happier.
Smart people don’t like too many people it seems. Why would you, if you had to constantly correct some “friends” pronunciation of cerebral?
The Savannah Theory of Happiness, conducted by evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University, has gained a lot of traction and attention with The Washington Post this week calling this type of modern social friendship behaviour “Paleo Happiness”.
Like the Paleo diet, according to The Washington Post this is another Paleo theory that has its origins in “the idea that our bodies are best adapted to the environment of our earliest ancestors.”
Back in the Paleo days, caves were homes, communication was via iGrunt and humans needed each other to survive. Friends were useful as well as great to bore with another story of that lion kill near the waterhole. There were no cities, just groups of people – around 150 – living their entire lives together. Being social, helping with hunting and fighting off predators, was essential for surviving another day.
Kanazawa and Li believe the hunter gatherer simple lifestyle our ancestors lived by forms the basis of our happiness today. (As evolutionary psychologists, that whole We-Do- Everything-Because-Our-Ancestors-Did-It really is the starting point so no surprises there).
That’s why the study also found that people living in high density areas reported less overall happiness. Remember: they didn’t have high density out in the savannah. Tall trees don’t count.
The Paleo diet has been pioneered by chef Pete Evans. Listen to the Mamamia Out Loud podcast below as they weigh in on the fad. Post continues after audio…
But what was harder to explain in the study, according to News Every Day was why “intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.”
A reason could be because smarter people are more focused on another long term goal (think curing cancer, finishing off that biography of Karl Marx). Or despite the modern world being unsuitable for happiness and health – hence the rash of Paleo theories – smarter people are better at adapting all the way to less social interaction if needed.