If you’re a relatively intelligent person, two things are likely true: you socialize less than your peers, and you have anxiety about whether or not that’s normal and sane and acceptable. As most of us already know, intelligent people tend to be more anxious than others and also are more likely to have social anxiety, as they are more perceptive than the average person. However, a study published in the British Journal of Psychology has demonstrated that this often goes even a step further: highly intelligent people actually prefer their own company, and there’s a pretty interesting reason why.
First, what we know: the study explained that evolutionary psychologists have discovered a link between frequent social interaction and reduced life satisfaction in people who are generally more intelligent. They surveyed adults between the ages of 18 and 28, and found that people who lived in more densely populated areas reported lower levels of happiness, and the same was true when people had more frequent socialization with friends.
The study proposes the idea that “savannah theory” is at the root of modern happiness — or that the things that inherently make us happy are as true now as they were at the dawn of civilization. The idea is that smarter individuals are better able to adapt to the challenges of modern living, and are more willing to “leave the group” to forge ahead with their own, more fulfilling lives. Basically: intelligent people prefer to socialize less because they do not need that feeling of tribal belonging to find meaning in their lives. In fact, they’re the ones who, when confronted with the choice between “belonging” and forging their own path, are more likely to choose to go their own way.
So according to this theory, our hunter-gatherer brains were perfectly adapted to life as it was back then, where the population would have been smaller, and we would have existed in groups of around 150 people each. Social interaction would have been crucial to survive. It is that ability to adapt that marks an intelligent person. In the past, a superior human would have been able to follow their instincts best — today, a superior human is best able to forge their own future as opposed to just adhere to the group.