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When you think of someone highly intelligent, what comes to mind? If you envisioned someone who spends much of their time alone, then you may not be too far off base, according to a 2016 study.

The study was carried out by researchers Norman P. Li and Satoshi Kanazawa from Singapore Management University, Singapore, and the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK, respectively. The duo set out to understand the ‘savanna theory’ of happiness, but what they found was quite interesting.

The savanna theory is a hypothesis that asserts that we react to circumstances as our ancestors would have, as we evolved psychologically based on our ancestor’s beliefs.

To understand their hypothesis and its roots, they analyzed interviews conducted by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) in 2001-2002 with 15,197 people who were between the ages of 18-28. What they were looking for was a correlation between where the person lived (rural or urban) and their life satisfaction.

What they discovered was that the denser the population of an area, the less happy its inhabitants were. The authors believe this supports the savanna theory because we should naturally feel uneasy in larger groups, especially if our brains have evolved for functioning in groups of around. 150 people.

Furthermore, the researchers noted that the more intelligent the participants were, the more likely they were to experience discomfort in largely populated areas. In conclusion, the researchers believe that less intelligent people tend to need or even thrive in larger groups, whereas highly intelligent people tend to enjoy their own company or the company of smaller groups.

Another take on why intelligent people tend to enjoy being alone more than the regular Joe is because they need time to reset themselves, to think, and to explore their curiosity. What do you think?