A study delving into the well-being of young people came up with two main findings: that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to be less happy, and that the more socializing one does with close friends, the more satisfied that person says he or she is, the Washington Post reports. But there was one outlier group—people with higher IQs—who didn't seem as bothered by living in crowded areas as their counterparts, and who were less happy the more time they spent with pals. Now, two evolutionary psychologists say they've analyzed the research and think they know why, and it all ties back to our hunter-gatherer roots. In a study published in the British Journal of Psychology, Norman Li and Satoshi Kanazawa say that what made our ancestors happy tends to still have an effect on modern-day populations.
While a Brookings Institution researcher tells the Post it could simply be that higher-IQ individuals may be "focused on some other longer term objective"—which means they could derive more satisfaction toiling on those lofty goals than hanging out with pals—Kanazawa and Li's theory says intelligent individuals' capacity to deal better with dense populations may link back to our ancestors who lived on the sparsely populated African savanna and adapted to that surrounding. Although your average Joe today may a hard time evolving from that rural-like setting to today's overloaded environment, people with high IQs may be better able to "solve evolutionarily novel problems" and adapt better. As for the smarties' spurn of socialization? They may similarly be able to better adapt to solitary activities that their hunter-gatherer brethren rejected for survival purposes. (Firstborns have higher IQs—with a catch.)