Stupid People Have Better Social Lives Than You

March 24th 2016

Alex Mierjeski

Stupid people are happier with more friends around — or so goes at least one implication from recent research. 

Smarter people may be better off around fewer people, according to a study by evolutionary psychologists Satoshia Kanazawa and Norma Li of Singapore Management University, published February in the British Journal of Psychology.

Kanazawa and Li looked at 15,000 respondents aged 18 to 28 and found a couple of things:

  • People living in more densely populated areas were less happy
  • Happiness levels went up when people had more social interactions with friends
  • The reverse was true for "high-IQ individuals"

"More intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently," Kanazawa and Li wrote.

The researchers used an ancient model — based on the lifestyles of hunter-gatherers — as a gauge for happiness and satisfaction for modern-day people. Basically, the thinking goes, the more connection you have with those around you, the better suited you are to succeed in life: connections, happiness, reproduction, and, ultimately, survival.

But for highly intelligent people, tight-knit social networks may be less necessary.

"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," according to the researchers.

There are a couple of caveats to all of this. Self-reported happiness is an unreliable measure, especially when it's linked to general life satisfaction, as it is in this study, the Washington Post reported.

Then there's the definition of intelligence, which varies. "These findings are 'probably partly down to personality,'" Ann Clarkson, a spokesperson for the high IQ society Mensa, told Broadly. "'You can have gregarious people with high IQ, as well as introverted people with high IQ.'"

Nevertheless, the findings should at least make you feel better about staying home on a Friday night to dive into "War and Peace" while your friends get trashed on the bar circuit.