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6 Surprising Signs You’re More Intelligent Than You Thought


You could say that there are plenty of not-so-bright people walking around, but it’s not that there are so many of them, it’s just that they are usually the loudest. There are a lot of extremely intelligent people out there, but they simply don’t advertise the fact that they are smart.

It comes naturally to them, and they try to live their lives freely and without consciously drawing attention to themselves. You can call it modesty or plain old good manners, but these people tend to look and sound quite average until they surprise you with a gem of wisdom.


Chances are, how smart you think you are and how smart you actually are probably don’t exactly match up. And while some people might think they know more in certain areas than they actually do when you get right down to it, others probably are actually smarter than they think they are.

Stupid people tend to overestimate their competence, while smart people tend to sell themselves short. As Shakespeare put it in “As You Like It“: “The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

That conventional wisdom is backed up by a Cornell University study conducted by David Dunning and Justin Kruger. The phenomenon is now known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

So, if you’re not too sure about your own intellect, it actually might be an indication that you’re pretty intelligent — thoughtful enough to realize your limitations, at least.

Consider this an intelligence checklist!

Most of these are backed by studies so if you find out you relate with even one, you’re much more intelligent than you thought!

1. You are messy.

According to Kathleen Vohs, the messier you are, the more intelligent you are likely to be.

The lead researcher and her team divided the participants into two groups. They asked the groups to brainstorm new uses for ping pong balls. The results showed that the ideas from the messy group were more interesting and creative when evaluated by impartial judges.

In the same study, neatness and tidy desks lead a person to do what was expected of them. But those who are messier display creativity at a higher level.

2. You worry a lot.

More and more studies are proving that people who often worry about things might be more intelligent than those who don’t. It may be the case that this is a result of the fact that they’re always thinking about the possible consequences of their actions and therefore try to make sure everything turns out as best as possible.

3. You’re tall.

Research carried out at Princeton University showed that tall children study better than their peers, and when they reach adulthood they end up earning more money. So straighten your back — you have something to be proud of!

4. You’re creative.

If you’re a creative person, that actually could be an indication that you’re smarter than you might think. Part of being creative means being flexible and thinking all kinds of different ways, and intelligence and executive functioning are both important for that.

5. You’re the silent type.

You’ll find plenty of misconceptions about quiet people, e.g. being labeled as introverts, socially awkward and so on. This isn’t necessarily true, and while not all quiet people are necessarily smart, highly intelligent people will often refrain from speaking if they are accessing a situation. They will take some time to think about what was said and prepare an adequate response, and they find silence better than pointless small talk.

6. You talk to yourself.

Talking to yourself may be a sign of higher cognitive functioning, according to a recent study.

Paloma Mari-Beffa of Bangor University found external monologues boost brain power to improve our focus and achieve goals. According to her, our inner talk serves to control ourselves by helping us organize our thoughts and actions.

“Talking out loud can be an extension of this silent inner talk, caused when a certain motor command is triggered involuntarily,” said Mari-Beffa.

She continues:

“Talking out loud, when the mind is not wandering, could actually be a sign of high cognitive functioning. Rather than being mentally ill, it can make you intellectually more competent.”

7. You’re naturally curious.

A professor of business psychology at one London university came to the conclusion that curiosity is an important characteristic in intelligent people. Curious people possess a more refined form of thinking, and in the long-term they are interested in discovering new things and developing as people.