Saturday, August 20, 2016

People like people  -- but high IQ people need their solitude

The above heading encapsulates the findings of a paper from earlier this year by Li & Kanazawa.  Man is a social animal so the finding that people are happier if they have a lot of contact with friends is no surprise.  But why are high IQ people different?  I personally certainly fit the pattern described.  In a typical week I would see the lady in my life for an evening twice a week but have no other social contact in that week.  Since he lives in the same building as I do, my son drops in for a brief chat every few days but that is it.  I do however go to family birthdays and there are a few of them.

So can I offer an explanation of why high IQ people are so anti-social?  The easy answer is that high IQ people find normal people boring, and there is some truth in that.  But, on the other hand, people at all intelligence levels tend to choose their friends from people around their own IQ level.  So a high IQ  person would normally have pretty bright friends.  So boredom would be unlikely to be the crucial factor.

I am afraid that I can offer no general explanation but I note that in my own case, I consider my self-chosen "work" of keeping up with the politics of 3 countries -- the USA, the UK and Australia -- to be pretty engrossing and I need most of my time for that.  From my POV, I haven't got the time for a lot of socializing.  People do to a degree socialize when they have got nothing else to do.  I am rarely in that situation.

I do have both a brother and a son who see things very much as I do.  But that is not as good a thing as some might imagine.  Because we see eye to eye we basically  have nothing to say to one another.  Anything we say would just be a  repetition of something that the other believes. So there is surprising complexity in the way we high IQ people  behave.

There is an extended discussion of the matter here.  Information on the sample used is here

Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness

Norman P. Li & Satoshi Kanazawa


We propose the savanna theory of happiness, which suggests that it is not only the current consequences of a given situation but also its ancestral consequences that affect individuals’ life satisfaction and explains why such influences of ancestral consequences might interact with intelligence. We choose two varied factors that characterize basic differences between ancestral and modern life – population density and frequency of socialization with friends – as empirical test cases. As predicted by the theory, population density is negatively, and frequency of socialization with friends is positively, associated with life satisfaction. More importantly, the main associations of life satisfaction with population density and socialization with friends significantly interact with intelligence, and, in the latter case, the main association is reversed among the extremely intelligent. More intelligent individuals experience lower life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends. This study highlights the utility of incorporating evolutionary perspectives in the study of subjective well-being.


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