5 signs someone is downplaying their intelligence, according to psychology


1. They use overly simplified language

Do your friends or colleagues simplify their language around you, potentially influenced by the chameleon effect or intentionally downplaying their intelligence to avoid the loneliness associated with stereotypes about competence, which can lead clever individuals to adopt a more relatable and warmer demeanor, sometimes at the expense of their dream jobs?

2. They gloss over their achievements

Excessive humility can have negative consequences, as individuals who constantly downplay their achievements due to the pressure of being labeled as intelligent or "gifted" may experience well-being and relationship challenges, and those constantly told they're meant for greatness may face high expectations and potential disappointment.

3. They rarely volunteer for leadership roles

The "Termites," a high-IQ group studied by psychologist Lewis Terman, revealed that despite some excelling, many opted for humbler professions, like police officers and typists, leading Terman to conclude that high IQ doesn't always correlate with achievement, possibly due to stress and greater mental health challenges, causing them to shy away from roles highlighting their intellect.

4. They are super agreeable (even when they’re right)

Have you seen Better Call Saul? The character Kim Wexler undergoes a significant change, going from a smart and assertive lawyer to someone meek and indecisive, a coping mechanism for many intelligent individuals who, fearing conflict and overthinking everything, may downplay their intelligence to avoid judgment, resentment, or always being the problem-solver.

5. They feign “ignorance” way too often 

This person frequently claims ignorance, but their evident intelligence might suggest they're downplaying it, yet it's essential to remember that intelligence doesn't necessarily equate to wisdom, as multiple types of intelligence exist, and having a high IQ doesn't guarantee rational thinking or decision-making skills.

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