New research has shown that we’ve adapted to life in the wild, with people living in villages living in cities.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, suggest that humans have developed an “evolved capacity for social distance”, which is known to lead to higher levels of happiness and lower levels of anxiety.
This is a “phenomenon that is often seen in other species, such as chimpanzees”, Dr John J. McNeil, from the University of Edinburgh, said.
“What we’ve seen in humans is that we are able to have social distance in a way that other animals cannot, and this is in part due to the fact that our brain is built to adapt to social distance, and to have an internal world that is more social,” Dr McNeil said.
What we’ve found in humans Isolated in small communities, such people are unable to build social networks and to build relationships.
In the absence of people, they often lack a sense of self.
“Our findings suggest that people can experience social distance through the use of their minds, through a mechanism called ‘internal distance’,” Dr McNeill said.
It is important to remember that social distance is not a ‘social distance’ at all.
“It’s the sense that we have that we’re a part of a larger group, and it’s not just us who have this,” Dr J.
McNeil said, adding that this is important in terms of understanding the psychological impact of social distance.
What is social distance?
Dr McNeal said that the term ‘social distances’ has been used to describe this sense of internal distance, but it can be used to refer to a wide range of psychological effects.
“There is a lot of evidence suggesting that people who have social distances experience anxiety, stress and depression, for example,” Dr. McNeal explained.
“So what’s really important to recognise is that the human experience is a very different one from that of other animals.”
The findings of the study show that our brains evolved to adapt, and therefore we’re able to ‘build’ social distance “The fact that we can build social distance and that our bodies are able in some way to support that is a key evolutionary process, which explains why we have evolved to be able to build and sustain relationships with people, and that it’s a natural response to our need to feel part of something larger and more meaningful than ourselves,” Dr McMansons research team said.
The research also showed that we could ‘adapt’ to social isolation, with researchers finding that our social networks grew faster in isolated villages compared to urban settings.
The researchers found that rural areas were better able to support a person’s emotional well-being, with the rural villages having a lower rate of depression and anxiety.
The team said the study was important for people who are considering living in rural areas.
Dr McNeils team is now working to understand why the ‘evolved ability for social distances’ could be so important in humans, and how it could help us cope with social isolation in the future.
The work is part of the University’s ‘Diseases and Disorders of the Human Mind’ project, which is the first major international study to look at the link between social distance from one’s environment and the development of mental health disorders.