More friends means popularity which equals happiness, right? Er, maybe not, according to new studies. Intellectual people are actually quite happy to have less pals.

Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University delved into the link between friendships, IQ and happiness through a surprising study using data from 15,000 adults ranging from 18 – 28 years old.

So, what did they find?

Firstly, living in a densely populated urban area means you’re likely to be less happy than country dwellers. They also discovered that the more social interactions a person has, the more content they are with life.

These findings can be linked back to the ‘savanna theory of happiness’. Our ancestors who lived in more isolated environments with smaller hunter-gatherer tribes were happy. Over time, the functioning of the human brain has evolved in a way that still operates with this mindset – AKA smaller towns over huge urban environments.

Now, here’s some news all you hermits out there will appreciate. Kanazawa and Li also came to the conclusion that the smarter you are, the less time you need with friends to feel that buzz of happiness.

“The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals,” they wrote. “More intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.”

A lot of the professionals say that this all makes perfect sense as smart people are very selective in how they spend their spare time.

“Those with more intelligence and the capacity to use it … are less likely to spend so much time socializing because they are focused on some other longer term objective,” Carol Graham, Brookings Institution researcher said.

So, the next time someone makes you feel bad for choosing Netflix over a night out, play the science card. Problem solved.

Words by Sophie Fisher. 

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