Science Reveals Why Highly Intelligent People Prefer To Be Alone

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By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Recent research has suggested that some highly intelligent people prefer to be alone.

Scientists have learned about the things that make people happy, which include exercise to reduce anxiety, living in nature to induce joy, and the reduction of social media usage to improve our well-being. We all feel content when we are around our friends and close people, however, there are also those people that prefer solitude and often those highly intelligent individuals are part of this group.  


This claim is also backed by research. A publication in the British Journal of Psychology by Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa explained why highly intelligent people experience low levels of life satisfaction when they interact more with their friends.

The researchers based their outcomes on evolutionary psychology and suggested that intelligence had evolved as a quality to solve challenges. The intelligent people/members of a certain group were able to solve more problems on their own without any assistance from their friends.

Theory suggests that people who were less intelligent were happy with their friends as they were assisted while solving those challenges, while the higher ones were happier alone, as they could solve those challenges on their own.

Looking Deeper Into The Research About Intelligent People

The researchers got their data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and analyzed survey responses from 15,197 people between the ages of 18 to 28.

One of their major findings was reported by Inverse, which stated:

“Analysis of this data revealed that being around dense crowds of people typically leads to unhappiness while socializing with friends typically leads to happiness – that is unless the person in question is highly intelligent.”

The Savanna Theory Of Happiness

The researchers referred to the “savanna theory of happiness” while explaining their findings.

This refers to the concept that our brains had evolved the most while we were living in the savannas.

Back in those times, the population was sparse and it was uncommon to meet strangers frequently. Humans used to live in bands of up to 150 different humans in closely packed groups. Their numbers were lower but the interactions among themselves were comparatively higher.

The Savanna Theory of Happiness suggested that the average human’s happiness came from those conditions similar to this ancestral savanna.

This theory came from evolutionary psychology and stated that the brain had adapted to the conditions of that environment and was not suited to responding to the unique conditions of modern times. 

Evolutionary psychology assumed that our brains had evolved to be hunter-gatherers but had not caught up with technological advancements.  

According to the authors, in the modern generation, we live in places with a higher population density than our ancestors did and also spend far less time with our friends than our ancestors did.

Therefore, because our brains have evolved to be best suited to the way life was as hunter-gatherers, most people these days would be happier by living in a way that is more natural to them: being around fewer people and spending more time with friends.


According to the researchers, this particular statement did not apply to highly intelligent people.

Humans shifted to urban surroundings and were interacting with strangers and unknown humans on a regular basis. This created a high-stress environment, more than the rural ones.

So, intelligent people adapted by craving solitude.

“In general, more intelligent individuals are more likely to have ‘unnatural’ preferences and values that our ancestors did not have,” Kanazawa says. “It is extremely natural for species like humans to seek and desire friendships and, as a result, more intelligent individuals are likely to seek them less.”

Highly intelligent people do not benefit much from friendships and use solitude as an avenue to reset themselves after socializing in high-stress urban surroundings.

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