Does socialising make you happy?

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People matter – a positive psychologist, Christopher Peterson used to say to summarise the impact of friendships on well-being. Research keeps showing us that having friends is associated with higher levels of optimism, lower risk of health problems, including depression. Having friends prolongs our lives, and generally speaking, makes us happier.

However, a recent study carried out in the US with over 15,000 people found that indeed, for most people frequent socialising with friends does have a positive impact on their life satisfaction. The only exception are those, who reported higher IQ. Specifically, individuals with higher levels of verbal intelligence were less happy living in urbanised areas and frequently socialising with friends.

Their life satisfaction was higher when in a rural setting and having less interaction with people.
Well, perhaps it explains, why so many writers’ retreats are held in the beautiful countryside, and why we always yearn to escape the city to collect thoughts. On the other hand, in this study, the difference in life satisfaction scores between people with high and average IQ is actually quite small. So, just like with any other research, the results need to be treated with caution, until we have further evidence for it.

Li, N. P., & Kanazawa, S. (2016). Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. British Journal Of Psychology, doi:10.1111/bjop.12181