shutterstockAs if we needed any more proof that friends are ridiculously healthy for us, here’s one more! Not only can friends can make us healthier, happier, and more attractive, but they also have a huge influence on our intelligence. Science even says so.
Multiple studies have shown that people’s thoughts and opinions are significantly shaped by the company they keep. But in the end, that could make you more or less intelligent, right? So, what’s really going on?
Researchers say that when the thoughts, ideas, or desires of other people match your own, your brain’s reward pathway makes you feel good. But let’s say your thoughts or opinions conflict with those around you, which activates your brain to feel pain, instead. In that scenario, you could either feign agreement with the others while inwardly disagreeing, or alter what you think to match those of the crowd.
Sadly, research shows that you’re more likely to do the latter, rather than the former. In a 1956 study conducted by a Swarthmore college psychologist, participants described a black line differently depending on the opinion of those around them. And other studies say the same thing; whether you like it or not, your brain automatically conforms the way you think to match that of your friends.
There’s a plus side to all of this, though. You’ve never had a more convincing reason to surround yourself with successful—and smart!—people. They’ll be sure to give you an intelligence boost. (Do you have the attributes of wildly successful people?)
When push comes to shove, here is the one simple takeaway: “When you pick people you want to be around, you’re choosing the person you want to become,” Inc.com writes. “Choose wisely.” All the more reason to start making lifelong friendships now.