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Evolution Made Really Smart People Long to Be Loners


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Evolution Made Really Smart People Long to Be Loners

Research finds highly intelligent individuals prefer to socialize less than the rest of us.

Inverse | Sarah Sloat

Psychologists have a pretty good idea of what typically makes a human happy. Dancing delights us. Being in nature brings us joy. And, for most people, frequent contact with good friends makes us feel content.

That is, unless you’re really, really smart.

In a 2016 paper published in the British Journal of Psychology, researchers Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa report that highly intelligent people experience lower life satisfaction when they socialize with friends more frequently. These are the Sherlocks and the Newt Scamanders of the world — the very intelligent few who would be happier if they were left alone.

To come to this conclusion, the researchers analyzed the survey responses of 15,197 individuals between the ages of 18 and 28. Their data was a part of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health — a survey that measures life satisfaction, intelligence, and health. Analysis of this data revealed that being around dense crowds of people typically leads to unhappiness, while socializing with friends typically leads to happiness — that is, unless the person in question is highly intelligent.

The authors explain these findings with the “savanna theory of happiness,” noting how different our world is than that of our Pleistocene-era ancestors. The savanna theory of happiness is the idea that life satisfaction is not only determined by what’s happening in the present but also influenced by the ways our ancestors may have reacted to the event. Evolutionary psychology argues that, just like any other organ, the human brain has been designed for and adapted to the conditions of an ancestral environment. Therefore, the researchers argue, our brains may have trouble comprehending and dealing with situations that are unique to the present.

The two factors that differ the most between ancestral and modern life are population density and how frequently humans socialize with friends. Today, most of us are around more people and spend less time with friends than our ancestors. But not the exceptionally smart among us: The authors argue that less intelligent people are affected by the savanna theory more than highly intelligent people.

“In general, more intelligent individuals are more likely to have ‘unnatural’ preferences and values that our ancestors did not have,” Kanazawa tells Inverse. “It is extremely natural for species like humans to seek and desire friendships and, as a result, more intelligent individuals are likely to seek them less.”

The survey results also revealed that smarter people were less likely to feel that they benefited from friendships, but they actually socialized more than less intelligent people.

Intelligence is believed to have evolved as a psychological mechanism to solve novel problems — the sort of challenges that weren’t a regular part of life. For our ancestors, frequent contact with friends and allies was a necessity that allowed them to survive. Being highly intelligent, however, meant an individual was more likely to be able to solve problems without another person’s help, which in turn diminished the importance of their friendships.

Because highly intelligent people do not necessarily prefer what their ancestors would have wanted, they are more comfortable in urban settings, the authors write. Historically, people tended to live comfortably in groups of around 150: the typical size of a Neolithic village was 150, Roman military units were usually 120 men, and the average company size of a World War II army was 180. Densely packed urban centers, in contrast, are thought to bring about isolation and depression because they do not foster close relationships. But a busy, alienating place has less of a negative effect on more intelligent people.

“In general, urbanites have higher average intelligence than ruralites do, possibly because more intelligent individuals are better able to live in ‘unnatural’ settings of high population density,” says Kanazawa.

That certainly doesn’t mean that if you enjoy being around your friends that you’re unintelligent. But it does mean that the really smart person you know who spends much of their time alone isn’t a sad loner — they probably just like it that way.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/evolution-made-really-smart-people-long-to-be-loners

 

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rfm010
On 9/21/2020 at 3:45 PM, Salty Dog said:

...more intelligent individuals are more likely to have ‘unnatural’ preferences...

I can vouch for this. 

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Jester

I am not all that intelligent,  except all the FB tests proclaim me a genius in the top 5% of the population.  I do not desire to be alone,  it is just I cannot tolerate being around idiots!

By the way even at my Mensa meeting there is always one person who is the dumbest in the room :lamoe:

 

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Kreole
7 hours ago, Jester said:

I am not all that intelligent,  except all the FB tests proclaim me a genius in the top 5% of the population.  I do not desire to be alone,  it is just I cannot tolerate being around idiots!

By the way even at my Mensa meeting there is always one person who is the dumbest in the room :lamoe:

 

I have lost my patience with stupid, neurotic people and people on some power trip, etc.  I really tried to work out "friendships" and intimate relationships until the point I realized that people were not going to change, even as much as they acknowledged the need and desire.  I would have to be the one to change, which has turned out to be a life long process.  Once I made the commitment to myself that I would not tolerate any more bullshit, idiots and assholes, my life has become much more equable, less stressful and certainly more peaceful. 

For those of you who are constantly in search of "happiness", the best I can say is good luck; it is a rare and very temporary condition.  It is clear to me that peace of mind is a much more valuable goal, and one over which I actually have some control.  I find much peace in solitude and no longer rely on other's to validate my existence.  Fortunately, I do not have any family ties or complications, and I never mourn past losses or unrequited love.  I just wish I had come to this conclusion years before, but it seems clear that the challenges and difficulties were necessary to help me move toward more personal and spiritual (not religious) independence.

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Edwin
14 hours ago, Kreole said:

I have lost my patience with stupid, neurotic people and people on some power trip, etc.  I really tried to work out "friendships" and intimate relationships until the point I realized that people were not going to change, even as much as they acknowledged the need and desire.  I would have to be the one to change, which has turned out to be a life long process.  Once I made the commitment to myself that I would not tolerate any more bullshit, idiots and assholes, my life has become much more equable, less stressful and certainly more peaceful. 

For those of you who are constantly in search of "happiness", the best I can say is good luck; it is a rare and very temporary condition.  It is clear to me that peace of mind is a much more valuable goal, and one over which I actually have some control.  I find much peace in solitude and no longer rely on other's to validate my existence.  Fortunately, I do not have any family ties or complications, and I never mourn past losses or unrequited love.  I just wish I had come to this conclusion years before, but it seems clear that the challenges and difficulties were necessary to help me move toward more personal and spiritual (not religious) independence.

The thread is about smart people.

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Jester
9 hours ago, Edwin said:

The thread is about smart people.

A thread about me,  guess I should be honored.   Einstein never wore socks,  neither do I,  guess that proves my superior intelligence.

Had a friend who was brilliant.   It appears that high intelligence and insanity are closely intertwined,  referred to as the genius insanity gene.   Most of his odd behavior was easy to ignore,  he had a phobia of ending up alone but had a real knack for driving people away from him.  I blew him off during a divorce as the way he was treating his X was despicable. 

He denied everything, would never admit anything was ever wrong.   I am sure if you asked him he would claim he enjoys not having any friends now.  Or maybe he does again,  I have not talked with him in a few years. 

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smokey

Well i fly solo all the years here i have no close friends but know many

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Kreole
On 9/25/2020 at 8:21 AM, Edwin said:

The thread is about smart people.

This appears to be a bit of snipping, really.  There are many more factors besides intelligence, such as life circumstances.  Looking at one factor actually is irrelevant unless one considers the background circumstances of a persons life.  I am immodest enough to admit that I am highly intelligent, but not exceptionally so to fall into the class of those about whom the article may be written. 

What I am pointing out, from my personal experience, is that you cannot isolate that one factor and claim causation.  So, keep an open mind and don't try to limit the discussion to this one point.  If you are just into sniping without offering any other relevant commentary, then I am sure you will find loads of opportunities in my current and former writings.  Go for it!

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Irenicus

This is why HeyMike lives on Trafalmadore.

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Davaoeno
2 hours ago, Kreole said:

.  If you are just into sniping without offering any other relevant commentary, then I am sure you will find loads of opportunities in my current and former writings.  Go for it!

Oh too easy- like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel.

Obviously the term " highly intelligent" is open to interpretation!  

Edited by Davaoeno
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lamoe
12 minutes ago, Davaoeno said:

Obviously the term " highly intelligent" is open to interpretation!  

Intelligence / common sense are too often considered to be the same.

One allows you to contemplate what your terminal velocity will be after falling off a cliff - the other keeps you from doing it in the first place.. :biggrin_01:

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HeyMike
8 hours ago, Irenicus said:

This is why HeyMike lives on Trafalmadore.

 

Um... that would be Tralfamadore.

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mikecon3
1 hour ago, HeyMike said:

Um... that would be Tralfamadore.

I was thinking that was a city in New Zealand...after googling, I think I was a ways off!!!

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BossHog
On 9/22/2020 at 3:45 AM, Salty Dog said:

Highly intelligent people experience lower life satisfaction when they socialize with friends more frequently.

But then...

On 9/22/2020 at 3:45 AM, Salty Dog said:

The survey results also revealed that smarter people....actually socialized more than less intelligent people.

 

Sounds to me like these smart folks got some serious issues to work out!

Edited by BossHog
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