Why smart people are happier when they have fewer friends

In people with high intelligence his hell. This follows from the curious new study published last month in the British Journal of Psychology (British Journal of Psychology).

Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li from Singapore Management University deeper into the question of what leads to happiness. Although traditionally this theme takes the priests, philosophers and writers, it is increasingly exploring economists, biologists and other scientists in recent years.

Kanazawa and Lee believe that the lifestyle of our ancestors hunter-gatherers form the basis of what makes us happy. "The situations and circumstances which would lead to an increase in life satisfaction of our ancestors, may now increase our contentment with life" - they write

. They use the term "happiness savannah theory" to explain the two main conclusions derived from the analysis of the results of the survey of 15 000 people aged 18 to 28 years.

Firstly, people living in more densely populated areas tend to be less satisfied with their lives in general. "The higher the population density in the immediate surroundings, the less happy" respondents consider themselves to be.

Second, the more human social interactions with close friends, the more he appreciates his happiness.

But we found one big exception. Among people with higher intelligence, or the correlation is much less pronounced, or even the opposite.

"Consequently, the negative impact of population density on the life satisfaction of more than two times higher in those with low IQ, than high IQ. And respondents with higher IQ were less satisfied with their lives, if they communicate with their friends more frequently. »

Repeat the last: when smart people spend more time to communicate with their friends, they become less happy

. Thus, both the output in the long run are indisputable. For example, many previous studies have found that some referred to as "gradient happiness for axes town-village". Kanazawa and I explain it this way: "The inhabitants of rural areas and small towns are happier than people in suburbs, which in turn are happier people in the district centers, residents are happier major regional centers»

. Why high population density makes people less happy? This issue is devoted to complex sociological research. But to experience this effect for yourself, simply head to the 45-minute journey on a crowded bus in rush hour, and then describe their state of health.

Of greatest interest is the second terminal of Kanazawa and Lee. It is not surprising that friendships and family ties are generally considered as the main component of happiness and well-being. But why these relationships have a different meaning for smart people?

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A researcher at the Brookings Institution, Carol Graham, studies the "economy of happiness", says: "According to the above results (and no wonder), people with outstanding intelligence and the ability to use it less often spend time communicating, because they are focused on some long-term goal."

For example, a doctor trying to cure the cancer, or a writer working on a great novel, or a lawyer who deals with the protection of the most vulnerable people in society, - frequent social interactions distract these people from reaching their goals, which could adversely affect their overall life satisfaction .

But the "theory of happiness savannah" Kanazawa and Lee gives another explanation. The idea starts with the premise that the human brain has evolved to meet the needs of our ancestors who inhabited the vast African savannah.

They have a population density was about the same as it is today in rural areas of Alaska (less than one person per square kilometer). Take the brain adapted to this environment, and place it in a modern Manhattan (population density of 27,685 people per square kilometer). You see evolutionary mismatch.

Similarly, it is with friendship: "Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers lived in small groups of about 150 people. In such circumstances, frequent contact throughout their lives with friends and compatriots are likely to be necessary for survival and reproduction, "- explained Kanazawa and Lee. We still we remain social creatures that reflects the original dependence on a cohesive social group.

A typical human life has changed dramatically since the days of ancient savannah. Then we did not have cars, iPhones, processed foods and TV shows. Quite possibly, our biology does not have time to grow fast enough to keep pace with changes in lifestyle. Therefore there is a discrepancy between what is our brain and other parts of the world where most of us are now living.

Kanazawa and Lee believe that more intelligent people are better equipped to deal with the new (at least from an evolutionary point of view) problems, which throws our modern life. "People who have a higher level of general intelligence and, consequently, the ability to solve new problems evolutionarily, may face less difficulty in understanding and dealing with the evolutionary new categories and situations," - they write

. If you're smarter and better able to adapt, you can more easily reconcile their evolutionary inclinations with the modern world. For example, living in the densely populated quarter less impact on your overall well-being, which revealed Kanazawa and Lee in the survey analysis. Similarly, more intelligent people may be better able to ensure that throw social networks of hunter-gatherers, especially when they are engaged in some more lofty goals.

It is important to remember that the argument proposed by Kanazawa and Lee are not recognized as scientific truth. Paleoteorii - the idea that our body is better adapted to the environment of our ancestors - have come under fire in recent years, especially since the food companies and some researchers have greatly inflated the expected benefits from paleodiet

. The main conclusions of Kanazawa and Li population density, social interaction and happiness relatively indisputable. But Carol Graham of the Brookings says that there are in their research is one potential drawback. It lies in the fact that the definition of happiness was taken into account, as the person's identification and life satisfaction ( "How satisfied are you with your life in general?"), But does not take into account the well-being feeling ( "How many times did you last laugh? How many times you were angry?" And et al.). These two types of questions can lead to very different estimates of well-being.

For its part, Kanazawa and Lee argue that this distinction does not matter much in their theory. "Even though the results of our empirical analysis using the index of general satisfaction with life, the theory of happiness" savanna "does not seek a specific definition and is compatible with any reasonable conception of happiness, subjective well-being and satisfaction with life" - they write
Kanazawa has faced criticism. In 2011, he wrote in a blog Psychology Today article titled "Why are black women less physically attractive than other women?". Due to the wave of indignation publication had to be removed.

His new research is hardly cause as much controversy. But an evolutionary perspective on happiness and intelligence can provoke a lively discussion.

Kanazawa said that his approach to the understanding of happiness is quite different from the argument, let's say, about the benefits of paleodiety. "Blind adherence to the diet of our ancestors though we have other aspects of their life, it seems to me dangerous and absurd prescription," - says the researcher.


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