Laziness is a sign of intelligence: Researchers say people who spend more time thinking are less physically active


You may now have another excuse to binge watch television shows and take naps during the day.
A new study reveals that intelligent people live a more sedentary lifestyle, as they rarely become bored and spend more time lost in their own thoughts.
Researchers found that those who fill their day with physical activity are often ‘non-thinkers,’ and do so to stimulate their minds in order to escape their own thoughts.

A past study found that those deemed non-thinkers became bored much easier and also experienced the negative effects that comes with it.
Those with high ‘need for cognition’ appeared to avoid this behavior because they were able to provide their own mental stimulation.
‘Thus, high-NFC individuals seem more content to ‘entertain themselves’ mentally, whereas low-NFC individuals quickly experience boredom and experience it more negatively,’ reads the paper.
The team at Florida Gulf Coast University used a tool, which is about 30 years old, to test a group of students for their study.
This ‘Need for Cognition’ questionnaire rates people with how strongly they agree or disagree with statements such as ‘I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems’ and ‘ I only think as hard as I have to’.
The tool has been used for more than three decades to examine the link between ‘enjoyment of effortful cognitive endeavors and other variables related to cognitions,’ the team writes in the published study.

To understand if laziness is a sign of intelligence, the team selected 60 undergraduate students from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina.
Half were deemed ‘thinkers’ and the other ‘non-thinker’s – these labels were given to individuals after they completed the Need for Cognition test.
Each individual was then given an ‘actigraphy device’ to wear over the next seven days .
This allowed the team to monitor the 60 students’ movement and activity levels and received a stream of data to analyze.
After the seven days, the team compiled the pulled samples and found the ‘thinkers’ were much less active than the ‘non-thinkers’.

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Answer the questions as following: 1 = extremely uncharacteristic; 2 = somewhat uncharacteristic; 3 = uncertain; 4 = somewhat characteristic; 5 = extremely characteristic.
1. I would prefer complex to simple problems.
2. I like to have the responsibility of handling a situation that requires a lot of thinking.
3. Thinking is not my idea of fun.
4. I would rather do something that requires little thought than something that is sure to challenge my thinking abilities.
5. I try to anticipate and avoid situations where there is likely a chance I will have to think in depth about something.
6. I find satisfaction in deliberating hard and for long hours.
7. I only think as hard as I have to.
8. I prefer to think about small, daily projects to long-term ones.
9. I like tasks that require little thought once I’ve learned them.
10. The idea of relying on thought to make my way to the top appeals to me.
11. I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems.
12. Learning new ways to think doesn’t excite me very much.
13. I prefer my life to be filled with puzzles that I must solve.
14. The notion of thinking abstractly is appealing to me.
15. I would prefer a task that is intellectual, difficult, and important to one that is somewhat important but does not require much thought.
16. I feel relief rather than satisfaction after completing a task that required a lot of mental effort.
17. It’s enough for me that something gets the job done; I don’t care how or why it works.
18. I usually end up deliberating about issues even when they do not affect me personally.
Using the 9-point scale, the highest possible score on the Need for Cognition Scale is 72 (18 items multiplied by 4 points each) and the lowest possible score is -72.
However, the weekends proved to be the same for each group, as ‘activity levels for high- and low-NFC individuals did not differ significantly’.

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‘It is important to note that part of the ‘weekend effect’ in our study may be due to our sample population, which consisted of college students,’ explains researchers.
‘Although college students are a standard participant pool in the vast majority of experimental psychology studies, their behavior and habits may be more indicative of young adult behavior than adult behavior in general.’

‘It is reasonable to assume that this ‘weekend effect’ may change as people progress through different life stages, which is a question that future researchers may want to consider.’
Researches also note that those who are more intelligent and lazier may endure negative side effects from their sedentary lifestyle.
‘Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness,’ shares the British Psychological Society regarding the study.
‘Awareness of their tendency to be less active, coupled with an awareness of the cost associated with inactivity, more thoughtful people may then choose to become more active throughout the day.’
Evolutionary psychologists have found that among the extremely intelligent, more frequent social interaction is actually linked with reduced satisfaction.
They looked at data from a large long-term study, which surveyed adults from 18 to 28, which provided self-reported levels of life satisfaction.
People living in more densely populated areas reported lower levels of life satisfaction, as did more frequent socialisation with friends.
But among ‘the extremely intelligent’ more frequent social interaction was found to be linked with reduced life satisfaction.
They propose that the ‘savannah theory’ is at the root of modern happiness. This theory dictates that the factors which made early humans satisfied are still true with modern life.
The researchers believe smarter individuals may be able to better adapt to the challenges of modern life, and may find it easier to leave their ancestral social roots behind in order to forge ahead in life.

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