Thinking minds don’t need to do as much physical activity, so they spend more time swirling than the average person. In other words, you may be lazy because you are smarter than the average mortal. Buy the idea, don’t you? Watch out, because that’s what research by American psychologists at Appalachian State University in North Carolina and Gulf Coast University of Florida in Fort Myers suggests.
The study assumes that people with a high IQ become less bored because they have more to think about, and therefore spend long, self-absorbed moments carburating and enjoying their inner life, which results in less physical activity.
The researchers reached that conclusion after analyzing two groups of students, of 30 people each. While one showed a high Cognition Need (NFC), a term that in psychology defines people who enjoy making cognitive efforts, in the other that need did not exceed average levels. After being asked a series of questions, such as “do you like to face situations that make you think?”, or “do you enjoy thinking?”, or “do you like tasks that, once learned, don’t need you to think too much?”, the students were monitored by means of a device placed on their wrist that calibrated the physical effort made during the time of the study.
The results showed that they exercised much more between Mondays and Fridays, although not over the weekend. For Ares Anfruns, psychotherapist and coach of the Institut Gomà de Barcelona, “people with high intellectual capacities are characterized, among other things, by understanding complex and abstract ideas and possessing creative behaviour when it comes to finding solutions. Their great ability is their thinking mind and it is there where they spend many more hours than other people elaborating ideas, creating different scenarios of the same situation, associating different contexts and looking for different results. Due to this condition their rhythm to move into action and ‘get going’ is different from that of others; it is not that they don’t do it but that they slow it down. In my opinion, it is not laziness that defines them but a different rhythm”.
It is clear that the question is not simple, and that it cannot be summed up by stating only that a high IQ conditions people to be more sedentary. Nor that, on the contrary, people with a rather low IQ do not enjoy contemplative life and cognitive challenges, the study authors told the Washington Post.
The thing is more subtle. There are also differences between people who are equally skilled and who, for example, perform the same engineering work in the same company. A priori it would seem that the level of physical activity that their activity demands should be similar for both. But if one has the highest NFC, it is stimulated when it has to face complex problems at the computer, which leads it to spend long periods of time thinking in front of the screen. The other, not so much in need of intellectual challenges, is rather overwhelmed and proceeds to invest more time away from his table, either going to the bathroom more times or taking advantage of the midday break to go do some sport: it moves more.
Previous studies we counted in BuenaVida, pointed out that brilliant minds need more time in solitude, which gives them more time to think.
These researchers are not the only ones pointing in that direction. Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord, a German general and staunch opponent of the Nazi regime, made a singular classification of his officers, which he counted in the following way:
“I distinguish four classes: the intelligent, the workers, the fools and the lazy. In most cases there are two qualities. The intelligent and hard-working are for the General Staff; the others, the fools and lazy, make up 90% of all armies and are very fit for routine tasks. He who is intelligent and, at the same time, lazy, qualifies for the highest command tasks, because he provides the mental clarity and poise necessary to make weighty decisions. He who is foolish and hardworking must be protected; no responsibility can be delegated to him, for he will always cause some misfortune.
You see, that touch of vagrancy that your friends attribute to you may have its point. If you’re poked about it, you can always give them such an interesting argument, or you can also give them a couple of famous phrases about it. Bill Gates’ is the one: “I will always choose a lazy person to do a difficult job because he will find an easy way to do it. And with Oscar Wilde’s, he’ll finish off the job: “Do nothing”.