Friends are not simply those people with whom we share joys and sorrows, we tell our secrets and we live adventures. More and more studies show the enormous importance of choosing our friends well since their influence on us will be decisive, not only from the emotional point of view but also intellectually.
A study conducted at the University of Florida revealed that our mothers were not so misguided when they encouraged us to choose wisely our friendships. It is not just that the group of friends can exercise a good or bad influence on our behavior and values, but it can also boost our intelligence.
Having smart friends boost our intelligence
The researchers analyzed 715 adolescents, assessing their level of intelligence to compare it with their peers. They discovered that each person’s IQ was related to that of their best friend or group to which they belonged.
However, the most curious thing was that this phenomenon followed a trend: people who were related to more highly intelligent peers, had an IQ higher than what would be expected taking into account the intelligence tests they had undergone years ago.
In fact, these psychologists analyzed the children between 10 and 11 years old and their group of friends, to re-apply the tests when they were 15 years old and see what had changed.
They found that it is not simply that people with a higher IQ choose other smart people as friends, but the simple fact of becoming part of this type of social circle has a positive and developing effect on intelligence, at least during the first two decades of life.
Friends boost Crystallized Intelligence
These psychologists explain that “the group of friends has a profound impact on the motivation of its members”, encouraging each person to develop their intellectual abilities to the maximum. In other words, belonging to a group that is intellectually challenging encourages us to continue growing and expands our range of interests.
The researchers also explain that friends influence much more what is known as “Crystallized Intelligence”, which is related to the use of skills, knowledge and experience.
While fluid intelligence refers to our ability to solve new problems without having any prior knowledge, crystallized intelligence refers to the breadth and depth of the knowledge we acquire and how we use it in a creative and practical way to solve the problems.
The crystallized intelligence is developed throughout life, and it is logical to assume that our network of friends can provide us with knowledge and problem solving techniques that allow us to develop our intellectual skills.
Therefore, now you know it: if you have a slightly higher IQ than the average, you might have to thank your friends from childhood or adolescence.
Meldrum, R. et. Al. (2018) On the Longitudinal Association between Peer and Adolescent Intelligence: Can Our Friends Make Us Smarter? PsyArXiv.