Science Recognizes Laziness as a Sign of Intelligence

Does the couch call out to you? Do your hobbies include afternoon naps and Netflix marathons? Do you also consider yourself to be a genius? A promising and insightful new study confirms what we lazy people have suspected all along.

Lazy individuals are, in fact, more thoughtful and intelligent than our highly active counterparts.

A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology suggests that individuals who have a high IQ tend to spend less time engaging in physical activity. Researchers from the Florida Gulf Coast University gave a large group of students a test designed to measure their need for cognitive activity.

They used this to identify thirty students who expressed a strong desire to engage in deep thought, as well as thirty students who preferred to avoid mentally difficult activities. Then, the researchers gave each test subject a device to wear on their wrist which would measure their level of physical activity over the next week.

The group who described themselves as “thinkers” were determined to be far less active than the “non-thinkers” throughout the week. Oddly, on the weekends, their activity levels grew closer together. Although the researchers were unable to explain this phenomenon, I have a personal theory. It is possible that “non-thinkers” engaged in habitual physical activity as a part of their normal workday, while the “thinkers” did not. On the weekends, the “non-thinkers” might have taken a break from their regular gym routine, while the “thinkers” were more inclined to engage in recreational activities and social outings.

This connection between laziness and intelligence is thought to be a result of the way that a highly intelligent mind functions.

Smarter people tend to have an increased capacity for internal stimulation and an inclination to spend more time deep in thought. While highly active people rely on external stimulation in the form of activity, more intelligent people just don’t need to do this. Our minds can maintain an adequate level of stimulation from the comfort of our worn-out armchairs.

This theory is supported by earlier research, which suggested that highly intelligent people were less prone to boredom. They also found boring situations to be less unpleasant, and were more able to easily cope with them through increased internal thought. Could it be then that “non-thinkers” engage in physical activity as a way to escape the dullness of their inner world?

As lead researcher Todd McElroy warned, “Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness. 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.”

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