9 signs you’re not as intelligent as you think you are

We all like to think of ourselves as intelligent people. And compared to, say, a sheep, we are.

But when you want something to be true, it’s easy to mistake your desires for reality.

There’s even a term for this.

The Dunning-Kruger effect, named after psychologists David Dunner and Justin Kruger, describes people’s tendency to overestimate the depth of their knowledge when they first start learning about a new subject. This effect is often used to explain the confidence unintelligent people have in their own cognitive abilities.

Because the trouble is, really dumb people don’t always know how dumb they are.

In fact, having a realistic assessment of your own intellect is itself part of being intelligent.

In other words, you may not be as smart as you think you are.

Here are some signs that you may have overestimated your intelligence.

1) You aren’t growing

One of the surest signs of an intelligent person is that they never miss an opportunity for personal growth.

That means the opposite is also true. People of less intelligence are either less interested or less capable of expanding their range of knowledge and abilities.

In other words, they are less likely to grow.

Do you feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Do you find yourself doing the same thing day after day?

That can happen to anyone from time to time. But in general, people with high intelligence find ways out of any situation they are in and are always looking for ways to improve and grow.

Now, maybe you’re happy where you are. If so, there’s nothing wrong with that.

But if you pass up real opportunities for growth and learning, it might be because you’re not as smart as you think you are.

2) You are often in conflict with others

I’m not saying that smart people are always easy to get along with. But I am saying that generally, where possible, smart people try to avoid conflict.

Intelligent people know that conflict is a waste of time. While it’s fine to disagree with someone on an intellectual level, it never helps to get emotional about that disagreement, or to get too attached to your point of view so that you take any disagreement as a personal attack.

Intelligent people know how to argue politely.

They also know when arguing is a waste of time, and prefer to walk away.

Several psychological studies have demonstrated that people with higher IQs generally have greater emotional control, which allows them to stay out of conflicts.

So if you find yourself in constant feuds and battles with other people, it might be because you aren’t as smart as you think.

3) People don’t respect your opinions

It’s dangerous to get your self-worthit’s from other people.

At the same time, you can learn a lot about who you really are from how other people see you.

Intelligence isn’t always immediately obvious, but sooner or later, people learn who around them is smart and who isn’t. And it’s the smart people they go to for advice.

Do people ask you for your opinion? Or, when you offer advice, do they take it?

If not, it might be because you don’t give good advice, or at least the people around you don’t think that you do.

Either way, it’s a sign that the people who know you best don’t respect your intelligence. 

There could be a good reason for that.

4) You take the easy road

What do I mean by that?

I’m not talking about being lazy. In fact, according to psychologists David Hambrick and Elizabeth Meinz, laziness can actually be a sign of intelligence. After all, if you have a high IQ, you may not need to work as hard as other people to acquire skills and knowledge.

Instead, I’m talking about how you react to challenges.

It can be at work. Or it can be how you choose to spend your free time. 

Do you enjoy lowbrow entertainment like popular TV? Do you spend hours scrolling useless content on social media? Are you unwilling to stretch yourself by trying something new that might challenge your brain?

Smart people don’t enjoy highbrow pursuits because they are pretentious. They do it because a powerful brain needs to be challenged in ways that mass-market entertainment simply can’t do.

If you never stretch yourself, it might be because you aren’t all that smart.

5) You are promiscuous

pic1470 9 signs you’re not as intelligent as you think you are

I’m not sure how to feel about this one.

But sociologist Rosemary Hopcroft points out that intelligence is negatively correlated with sex frequency.

In other words, smarter people have less sex.

One study found that men with a college education were only half as likely to have had four or more sexual partners in a year than men without a degree.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that having less sex. It just means having sex with fewer people.

Another study suggests that men who are faithful to their partners are more intelligent than those who aren’t. Although the same study didn’t find any correlation between intelligence and promiscuity for women.

It’s not completely clear why this is the case. Maybe it’s because intelligent people have greater self-control and focus more on their careers or their intellectual pursuits than they do on getting laid.

Either way, it’s bad news for those with lots of sexual partners – especially if they’re men.

Then again, all that sex will probably help them get over the disappointment.

6) You’re always busy

Of course, intelligent people get busy. Just like the rest of us, they have families, and often, they have important jobs that keep them very busy.

At the same time, good time management is an important skill that intelligent people take the trouble to learn.

We all have demands on our time. But if you find yourself constantly rushing around, missing deadlines, and never able to keep up with all the other demands on you, it shows you are either taking on too much or not managing your time well.

And that’s a sign you may not be as intelligent as you think you are.

7) You are not curious

This is one of the big ones.

Intelligent people are almost always curious people, too.

After all, a powerful brain needs something to work on all the time.

And the result is that intelligent people always want to learn something new, and often end up with a huge base of very diverse knowledge about a range of subjects.

Not everyone is like that.

For some people, there’s no point learning something this doesn’t apply to their daily lives. 

What does it matter that the Roman Emperor Nero married a boy he tried to turn into a woman or that the sun is 109 times bigger than the earth? Knowing facts like that doesn’t help you pay your bills.

But that attitude is a sign of someone who lacks intellectual curiosity. And generally, if you aren’t curious about the world around you, it’s a sign you aren’t as smart as you may have thought you were.

8) You don’t read

As I mentioned above, how you spend your free time can indicate your intelligence level.

And although the link is not fully understood, if you spend a lot of time reading, it’s a good sign that you are more intelligent than average.

It’s kind of a chicken-and-egg question as to whether naturally intelligent people are more drawn to reading, or whether reading makes people more intelligent.

Certainly, reading has been found to increase brain connectivity and emotional intelligence.

Of course, there are plenty of highly intelligent people who don’t read a lot, and plenty of not particularly stunning intellects who read all the time.

But if you haven’t picked up a book since high school, it might be a sign of lower intelligence than you thought.

9) You’re overweight

More bad news, I’m afraid.

But several studies have demonstrated a link between being overweight and having a lower IQ.

Now, of course, there are so many exceptions to this rule. The world is full of fat geniuses and skinny morons. But on average, it does seem that the heavier you are, the less intelligent you may be.

By now, we all know how important it is to stay in good shape. This might be another example of more intelligent people having greater self-control which makes it easier for them to eat right and exercise.

On the other hand, it could be that along with the other well-known health problems obesity causes, it may have a damaging effect on the brain. It’s

But whatever the reason, the link is clear. And if you’re carrying a few extra pounds, this might be the reason why.

The complex signs of intelligence

This article might seem to be all bad news. But it’s important to remember that human beings are incredibly diverse, and that there are thousands of exceptions to every rule.

Still, if you’ve ever had the sneaking suspicion your intelligence isn’t what you thought it was, ask yourself if you display the behaviors on this list.

Because if so, you may not be as smart as you think you are.

Picture of Clifton Kopp

Clifton Kopp

Welcome to my writings on Ideapod! I'm a bit of a "polymath" in that I like writing about many different things. Often I'm learning from the process of writing. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a comment on one of my articles.

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