Skip to content

If Intelligent, Be Alone, Kind Of, But Not Really, Maybe


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Personal)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/07/08

According to the World Economic Forum, some research indicates general intelligence differences can lead to differences in the preference of social interaction or, rather, the lack thereof.

Smart people tend to want to be alone. A published study described the modern feelings and the needs evolved in ancestral environments. Among the minority, the highly intelligent, there is a statistical trend of the smarter being happier without a lot of people around them; whereas, for the normal person, friends and interaction with individuals make them happier.

Satoshi Kanazawa, a researcher from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Norman P. Li, a researcher from the Singapore Management University, proposed the “mismatch hypothesis” or the evolutionary legacy hypothesis.”

That is to say, the hypothesized or loosely extrapolated ways in which the conditions of the savannah for early human beings and the requirements for survival at that time.

As reported, “The study analyzed data from interviews conducted by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) in 2001–2002 with 15,197 individuals aged 18–28. The researchers looked for a correlation between where an interviewee lived — in a rural or urban area — and his or her life satisfaction. They were interested in assessing how population density and friendships affect happiness.”

Indeed, the happiness seems inversely related to the density of the population of one’s locale or local population. If we look at the report within the savannah theory of the two aforementioned researchers, the average human pack size was probably about 150.

Thus, our “neocortex” and “hunter-gatherer-societies” reflect people-groups of about 150, even 200, people as a computational capacity in the former category and the social organizational complexity in the latter category.

That is to say, individuals do not need much more computational capacity and social awareness than the 150 other primates right around the corner from them.

As reported, “The study discovered, though, that the negative effect of the presence of lots of people is more pronounced among people of average intelligence. They propose that our smartest ancestors were better able to adapt to larger groups on the savannah due to a greater strategic flexibility and innate ingenuity, and so their descendants feel less stressed by urban environments today.”

A self-evident assumption in our cultures are that good friendships increase life satisfaction; however, this may not, apparently, always be the case, according to the research.

Indeed, our cognitive heights appear to invert with the friendship numbers, where a small tight circle and then a bigger and expanded circle provide a basis for a loose agglomeration of them.

“Li and Kanazawa feel that we need look no further than the savannah. They say that friendships/alliances were vital for survival, in that they facilitated group hunting and food sharing, reproduction, and even group child-rearing,” the World Economic Forum stated.

The trend then reverses for those individuals with higher general intelligence. Smarter people, on average, feel happier with fewer people around to bother them, which means a healthier social life for more highly intelligent people than not highly intelligent people means being alone than with others.

The article concluded, “However… the study also found that spending more time socializing with friends is actually an indicator of higher intelligence! This baffling contradiction is counter-intuitive, at least. Unless these smart people are not so much social as they are masochistic.”


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: