7 lesser-known habits that signal high intelligence, according to psychology

Some people are great at maths while others can quote dozen different sonnets by Shakespeare.

Others still can’t do either, but if you put them in a survival situation where keeping one’s cool under pressure and solving problems is absolutely essential, they’d thrive.

In short, there are many different kinds of intelligence, and they’re all valuable in their own way.

What’s more, there are actually certain habits that signal someone’s more intelligent than you might think – habits that have nothing to do with reading books on the theory of relativity or solving the Rubik’s cube for fun.

Keen to learn more?

Let’s go!

1) Daydreaming

Daydreaming might sound like a waste of time. It might also sound a bit insane, especially if you daydream a great deal.

After all, why would anyone make up fake scenarios in their own heads to pass the time?

Well, as it turns out, daydreaming is a sign that you’re very smart. Yes, that’s right.

According to one study, people who daydream a lot may have higher levels of creativity as well as intelligence.

Eric Schumacher, the Georgia Tech associate psychology professor and co-author of the study, said, “People with efficient brains may have too much brain capacity to stop their minds from wandering.”

“People tend to think of mind wandering as something that is bad. You try to pay attention and you can’t,” he added. “Our data are consistent with the idea that this isn’t always true. Some people have more efficient brains.”

Finally, “Our findings remind me of the absent-minded professor — someone who’s brilliant, but off in his or her own world, sometimes oblivious to their own surroundings.”

I don’t know how about you, but this sounds pretty accurate to me. It also makes me feel better about the fact that I get constantly lost in imaginary worlds.

2) Struggling to keep your desk organized

If you have a messy desk, it may very well mean you’re a genius.

Okay, that may have been an exaggeration. But some studies do show that there is a correlation between high intelligence and a cluttered desk.

The basic idea is that if you’re busy thinking up new ideas and solving complex problems, you’re not going to have as much time reorganizing your paper folders.

And you know what?

As someone with a pretty messy desk, I can get behind that.

3) Staying up late at night

Night owls, get ready. Your moment to shine has finally come.

Evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa says, “According to research, more intelligent children may grow up to be more nocturnal as adults than less intelligent children.”

And why is that, I hear you ask?

Well, research suggests that it requires a higher level of intelligence to go against one’s genetic predisposition and the ancestral environment our brains developed in.

Since there’s a high likelihood people have largely been awake during the day rather than the night in the course of history, it stands to reason that night owls have had to go against the norm.

This tendency to “to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences” may be a sign of higher intelligence.

So, if you love to stay awake during the night and hate to get up before 8 AM, I’ve got great news – you might just be very smart.

(Of course, you could also be scrolling on social media until 1 AM every day, in which case, the rules probably don’t apply to you. Sorry.)

4) Talking to yourself

youre an empath with high level emotional intelligence 7 lesser-known habits that signal high intelligence, according to psychology

You may think that talking to yourself means you’re crazy, but you’ll be pleased it hear it might actually signal that you’re a smart cookie destined for success.

(Or at least on the right track.)

Based on studies, self-talk can make us feel better about ourselves, increase our confidence levels, and help us get through life’s challenges. In turn, we grow in resilience, resourcefulness, and are more likely to pursue our goals with determination and drive.

This means that someone who talks to themselves in a positive way may be more prone to learning new things, solving issues instead of running away from them, and finding new ways to overcome obstacles – all of which, of course, contributes to your intelligence levels.

Habits like this can start very early on. According to one study, 5-year-old children who talk to themselves out loud perform better at motor tasks than when they’re silent.


Maybe it’s a good thing that you sound like a crazy person when you’re home alone.

5) Self-criticism and over-worrying

Smart people think a lot. That much is clear.

What many people don’t realize, however, is that not all of those thoughts are good for us. In fact, it is often the intelligent ones who doubt themselves the most, feel anxious, and get unnecessarily stressed out.


Because they overthink.

Since they’re so intelligent and well-read, they know just how much they don’t know about the universe, and that can often make them feel incompetent despite the fact they’re more capable and knowledgeable than the average person.

If you suffer from the impostor syndrome, it’s another sign you’re highly intelligent. Of course, the impostor syndrome will probably tell you otherwise.

Try not to listen to it.

6) Endless questioning

On the bright side, intelligent people don’t only question themselves – they also question the facts and opinions that are presented to them, which means they possess a healthy level of scepticism.

They don’t just take in new information without double-checking it first.

They don’t blindly follow authorities if the appeal of their words lies in manipulation rather than sound reason.

They don’t let their feelings have power over them – instead, they employ critical thinking to form an opinion on something.

This means two things.

One, a smart person is a manipulator’s worst nightmare. They won’t get screwed over as easily because they won’t just go with the flow for the sake of convenience.

Two, it is precisely by asking the questions others would simply give up on that a smart person increases their intelligence even more.

It’s a positive feedback loop at its best – the more you ask, the more answers you’ll get, and the more answers you’ll get, the more you’ll ask, boosting your knowledge and curiosity at the same time.

Don’t be afraid to ask. As the famous saying goes, it’s better to ask and look like a fool for a moment than to stay quiet and remain a fool for ever.

7) Spending a lot of time in one’s own company

Finally, many highly intelligent people like to spend time on their own. In fact, some experts say that introversion is linked to increased intelligence levels.

There are many reasons for why this might be a thing, one of which could be the fact that super smart people have a harder time finding friends who are on the same intellectual wavelength, rendering a lot of their interactions unfulfilling and unbalanced.

On a more positive note, though, smart people could also enjoy solitude because this is when they have the time and energy to pursue their intellectual interests, from reading history books to solving physics problems or building something.

Finally, people who have high intelligence – especially when it comes to emotional intelligence – love themselves enough to be completely comfortable on their own.

If they want to see a movie in the cinema and none of their friends can come, they’ll go alone.

If they want to travel somewhere new but everyone’s busy, they’ll book a solo trip.

If they have the day to themselves, they feel fulfilled devoting their time and energy to activities they enjoy and entertaining the fascinating landscapes of their own minds.

Solitude is a wonderful thing if your mind is your best friend. And for many intelligent people, this is exactly the case.




Picture of Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

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