For literally decades now psychologists have found that people who have more friends are happier than those who have fewer friends. So much so that it has become accepted wisdom that if you want to increase your levels of subjective wellbeing (geek speak for happiness) you need to get more friends.
Li and Kanazawa (2016), publishing just last month, have shown that this is not as straightforward as we have been thinking.
They found that for highly intelligent people more friends can mean less happiness.
Why? They suggest that truly smart people often have some specific purpose in life – writing a book, pursuing some special interest, building a business, or analysing the relationship between IQ and friendship, for instance. If so, going for coffee with the girls or to the football with your buddies might kind of get in the way.
People like this with fewer friends therefore have much more time to do the things they find truly valuable because they have fewer distractions.
There you go. If you have ever been given a hard time for not spending enough time socialising, you now have the perfect excuse. “I can see why it appeals to you, but really, I’m way too smart for that.”
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Li NP1, Kanazawa S2. Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. Br J Psychol. 2016 Feb 4. doi: 10.1111/bjop.12181. [Epub ahead of print]
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