20+ Signs Of High Intelligence That Aren’t Always Obvious

For the most part, people have a desire to be smart, or at least to be perceived as so by others. Few people wish that they were worse at something or weren’t as smart as they are. However, there are some types of intelligence that can’t be taught. This includes traits such as emotional intelligence, having a curious mind, or other skills people are born with. While some people’s intelligence is obvious, there are numerous potential signs of evidence that you may not know of!

See how fitness might have an effect on intelligence.

They Took Music Lessons

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It has been proven that people who have taken music lessons at one point or another tend to have a higher IQ than those who have not. It has also been found that this trend is most notable in children between the ages of four and six.

There have been numerous studies on the subject, and it has been concluded that learning an instrument can help people interpret and analyze things different rather than those who have never touched an instrument before.

They Are The Eldest Sibling

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Older siblings will be thrilled to hear that being an older sibling also tends to play a role in an individual’s intelligence. However, this has nothing to do with genetics. It’s simply because older siblings tend to have received a lot of attention from adults after they were born, and also have experience interacting with their younger siblings.

They are also the first to experience new things and learn lessons by making mistakes and setting an example.

They Are In Shape

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There have been a few studies conducted that have revealed that people with lower BMIs can be a sign of enhanced intelligence. One of the considerations is that more intelligent children might grow up to be more financially successful than less-intelligent people.

Having more money when you’re grown up allows people to take better care of the bodies and afford things like healthy food, gym memberships, and even access to decent healthcare.

Coming up: Tall people rejoice.

They Own A Cat

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While the argument about cats or dogs rages on, cat lovers will be happy to hear that owning a cat can be a sign of higher intelligence. While those who prefer dogs tend to be more outgoing and extroverted, those who own cats tend to be opposite.

According to a 2014 study, “cat people” may display higher levels of cognitive ability. This is most likely due to them staying at home spending their time reading and other similar activities.

They Experimented With Drugs

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In a 2012 study, researchers wrote that “in our large population-based cohort study, a high IQ at 11 years was associated with a greater likelihood of using selected illegal drugs 31 years later […] a high childhood IQ may prompt the adoption of behaviors that are potentially harmful to health in adulthood.”

Although drugs are dangerous, those with higher intelligence may be more inclined to experiment with drugs in order to satisfy their curiosity.

They Are Left-Handed


While most people wouldn’t think that their dominant hand would have an effect on intelligence, one experiment would say otherwise. According to Maria Konnikova, in a 1995 edition of The New Yorker,“Researchers found that the more marked the left-handed preference in a group of males, the better they were at tests of divergent thought…”

With the majority of the world being right-handed, it’s interesting to think that being left-handed may indeed have an effect on intelligence.

They Are Tall

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Apparently, height can also be a factor in determining a person’s intelligence. According to one study, as early as three years old, before children even attend school, their height may say something about how smart they are.

Supposedly, those who were taller as children and into adulthood perform significantly better on cognitive tests. Although being tall doesn’t automatically make you smarter than other people, it may have some kind of effect on a person’s intelligence.

See the difference that reading makes.

They Ask Big Questions

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Intelligent people aren’t satisfied with just learning about their immediate surroundings. They are often asking themselves or others highly existential questions such as the meaning of life, whether God exist, and other similar questions.

Although there isn’t a straight answer, they enjoy participating in conversations on these subjects, debating different philosophies and theories to help them wrap their head around such broad concepts. This often leads them to research and reading more than most people to satisfy their curiosities.

The Frequently Drink Alcohol

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Although it doesn’t make all that much sense, apparently, there is a correlation between people having a high IQ and frequently drinking alcohol. According to evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa, British and American adults with high IQs as children or teens drank more alcohol when they grew up.

However, this is no reason to begin drinking more than you should, as alcohol can seriously lower your inhibitions and is unhealthy to frequently be putting in your body.

They Started Reading At A Young Age

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Those that learn to read at a young age have a huge advantage over those who don’t learn to read until later in life. Reading is one of the best things anyone can do to improve their intelligence, so there is no surprise that there’s a correlation between the two.

In a 2012 study, in pairs of identical twins, those who learned to read earlier tended to score higher in tests of cognitive ability as well as verbal and nonverbal skills.

Being disorganized may mean more than just being lazy.

They Are Frequently Anxious

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Those with higher IQs tend to be more anxious than those of lesser intelligence. Smarter people tend to over-analyze situations or become easily troubled with existential questions or worrying about issues and problems that are out of their control.

While those who are anxious have been proven to score higher in tests of verbal intelligence, those not plagued by anxiety tend to score higher on tests that test for nonverbal intelligence.

They Have A Good Sense Of Humor

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Apparently, having a good sense of humor is usually a reliable sign that a person has above-average intelligence. To prove this theory, a study collected 400 psychology students in order to judge the abstract reasoning skills and verbal intelligence of the group.

The students were asked to come up with captions for New Yorker cartoons. The captions were then rated by an independent group. The results demonstrated that the students with the funniest responses were also the ones with higher levels of intelligence.

They Are Constantly Curious


Curious people tend to be a sign of higher intelligence because it means that somebody isn’t content not knowing things. They want to understand how things work or why things are the way that they are.

According to Tomas-Prezumi, a professor of business psychology, “[Curiosity] leads to higher levels of intellectual investment and knowledge acquisition over time, especially in formal domains of education, such as science and art.” Basically, people who are curious look for answers, which means they acquire knowledge during their search.

They Are Disorganized

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While you might think that most intelligent people would be extremely organized, that’s not always the case. Many very intelligent people tend to have messy desks or rooms, something that’s attributed to having enhanced levels of creativity.

Even Albert Einstein was known to appear very disheveled with his work strewn out all over the place. Being messy doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is lazy or flustered, it can simply mean that the person doesn’t find organization to be more important than their work.

Sleep can play a big part in it.

They Don’t Believe In Luck

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Very intelligent people don’t believe in the concept of luck. This is so, because they have a better understanding of how the world works. To them, luck is just the result of hard work, planning, some coincidence, and preparation.

For example, a man who wants to start a business goes out and finds a good business idea for themselves. They don’t sit around and wait for someone to come to them with a bright idea. In a sense, intelligent people make their own luck.

They Were Breastfed As A Baby


Amazingly, something that has also be thought to improve intelligence is how babies are fed when they are young. Apparently, babies who are breastfed are apt to have a higher IQ than babies that weren’t.

This was proven in a 2007 study in which children who were breastfed scored about seven points higher in an IQ test in comparison to children who were not. However, this only applies if they had one version of the FADS2 gene.

They’re Night Owls

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People who stay up late and sleep in later are more likely to be more intelligent than those who have regular sleeping hours. Researchers believe that those who wake up later are less likely to get tired as fast as someone who gets up super early with the help of an alarm clock.

These people might enjoy being awake at night because it gives them the opportunity to be alone with their own thoughts and no distractions.

They Can Be Viewed As Lazy

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While being lazy may not sound like a quality that supports being intelligent, not exerting extra effort doesn’t necessarily mean that someone is lazy. Intelligent people tend to not exert too much effort because they’re smart enough to solve a problem or get something done without exerting more energy than they need.

This is often why intelligent people are unorganized, as they don’t feel that they need to spend the time organizing things when they’re confident they’ll be fine without it.

They Aren’t Easily Distracted


If you’re not easily distracted, this can be a sign of intelligence. According to the 2013 journal Current Biology, Frank Zhu claims that “People who can focus for long stretches at a time and tune out distractions” are highly intelligent.”

Intelligent people have the ability to focus on one thing, something that not everyone can say for themselves. They do this in order to get the job done and to not take time away from something else that they’d rather be doing.

They Admit What They Don’t Know

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The smartest people are those who have an understanding of how much they don’t know. While they may be intelligent, they can admit that they don’t know everything, which can make them more humble than most.

According to the academic Jim Winer “Intelligent people “are not afraid to say: ‘I don’t know.’ If they don’t know it, they can learn it”. If an intelligent person doesn’t know something, it may spark their curiosity and cause them to set out to find an answer.

They’re The Silent Type

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Intelligent people who are quiet are often mislabeled as introverts and socially awkward. While sometimes this is true, it’s not always the case. Not all silent people are smart, they just have nothing to say.

The smart silent type you’ll notice start to open up later in a night or in a conversation. They start out quietly while they assess that situation, then make their response after thoughtful consideration. Does that sound like you?

They Welcome Challenges

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Intelligent people aren’t scared of a challenge. As difficulties in their lives pile up, they refuse to crumble underneath the weight of it. To make their life easier, they prioritize these problems, then attack them one at a time.

This trick keeps stress levels lower and allows the person to work on their problem solving skills. In fact, highly intelligent people will even see new problems coming and be able to plan for them in advance to keep their world spinning out of control.

They’re Friends Are Also Smart

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This is more of a general trend than a fact, but studies show that intelligent people tend to hang out with other intelligent people. If a majority of the people you socialize with are smart, then you’re probably pretty smart, too!

We’re not just talking book smart either. Intelligence can come in many forms. If one of your friends is an exceptional artist, then they’re probably pretty smart. The same can be said for writers and even athletes!

They Are Perfectionists


Maybe you don’t present yourself like an intelligent person. You wear grungy clothes and make crude jokes. Fear not, you might still be a smarty pants if you’re a perfectionist. You want to be the perfect kind of grungy or crude!

Perfectionists tend to make little changes throughout their lives to reach their ultimate goal. Nothing is ever enough, but you will keep trying. And keep trying. And then try some more because you just can’t help yourself.

They Constantly Question Themselves

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One sign you might be highly intelligent is if your are constantly questioning yourself. Now, we don’t mean you lack self-esteem. We mean you don’t lie to yourself when you’re bad at something or when you could be more sensitive to the people around you.

This doesn’t mean you are actively trying to impress the people around you by questioning yourself. This means you are able to recognize your own faults as a person and are willing to work on them to better yourself.

They Stay Up To Date With The News

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Intelligent people don’t like to fall out of the loop of what’s happening in the world. Staying up to date on world news is no easy task, but it’s important to stay informed.

Staying informed also helps intelligent people learn new things that are important to their lives. They can learn the next trend and start developing the skills to make it apart of their repertoire. With so much to learn an do, it’s impossible for intelligent people to run out of things to do.

They Have Several Projects

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Another trait of intelligent people is their ability to balance several projects at once. They might look like their doing nothing, but they’re really solving twenty different problems all at the same time.

These projects can range from learning a new dance to building a new bookshelf. A smart person has ideas of thing they want to start and finish, and they will try and make those dreams a reality. The project might not help them in the long term, but it will be emotionally fulfilling.

They Don’t Think They Are Smart

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Have you ever heard of the Dunning-Kruger effect? It says that people with lower intelligence tend to think more highly of themselves. On the reverse side, those who are smart usually sell their abilities short.

The truth about intelligence is that while it can be hidden, it cannot be taken away. A smart person is smart. A person with less abilities can learn to be more intelligent. Those who have built up their intelligence flaunt it, while those who haven’t are more humble.

They Use Less Electronics


Preferring to avoid an information overload, intelligent people tend to use less electronic devices in their lives. This doesn’t mean they don’t own a smart phone, laptop, tablet, and streaming device, they just don’t use them all at the same time.

Not surprisingly, a study conducted by Hewlett Packard even concluded that workers who were overloaded on information were less productive and more easily distracted at work. The urge to check their personal email and social networks was more important that the urge to do their job.

They Base Their Opinions On Facts

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Intelligent people are known skeptics, but this sign of brains has nothing do with skepticism. They enjoy being well-informed, and as a result, their opinions are well informed and based on facts.

When an intelligent person speaks, they demand the attention of the room. Even if they are trying to convince you that their point of view is correct, they are presenting their side with facts, not subjective thoughts. The ability to be objective helps with long term growth and adaptability.

They Care About Others

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Intelligent people tend to be more empathetic then their peers. Empathy is a key trait of intelligence and major signifier that you’re smarter than you give yourself credit for. One of the most important types of intelligence is emotional intelligence.

When you have empathy, you care about the way others around you feel. If they are hurting or sad, you want to know why, and you want to find a way to help them.

They Are More Internet Savvy


Because the internet “dispenses” knowledge, some people believe that it makes you smarter. This could not be further from the truth. Studies actually show that people who spend too much time on the internet lack deep thinking skills.

Therefore, more intelligent people tend be more internet savvy. They spend less time on electronics and know exactly where they need to go to get the information they need. The less time they spend looking up information, the more time they have for their hundreds of other projects.

They Have High Maintenance Minds

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With so much information being packed into their brains, intelligent people tend to have more high maintenance minds. They are constantly digesting and analyzing new information, bringing in the new while purging the old.

They want to know everything about as much as they can, not just one thing about everything. If you bring up any topic in a conversation with a smart person, their goal is to be able to talk intelligently with you about it.

They Learn From Their Mistakes

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If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t make the same mistake, you might be more intelligent that your peers. The ability to learn from your mistakes is a sign of higher intelligence.

Basically, before you make the same mistake again, your brain yells at you not to. You realize that you are about to do something negative and react by stopping yourself. It’s a good thing to make mistakes too when you’re smart; you always learn from them!

They Are Resourceful

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Intelligent people aren’t just incredible problem solvers. They are also incredibly resourceful. When they come across a problem, they use all the tools they to have to find a solution. They don’t try the same solution over and over again to no avail.

How do you solve your problems? Are the person who looks at the resources available to see if you could actually solve it? Not every problem has a solution, and learning when to move onto the next one is also smart.

Smart Men Are Monogamous

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Here’s a doozy of a thought for you. Intelligent men tend to be monogamous. The theory, which you can choose to believe if you want, states that intelligent men tend to go against nature’s grain.

While male nature pushes men to “pass their genes” onto as many offspring as possible, intelligent men are less inclined to this. Bottom line, if you want a man who will stay faithful, your best bet (but no guarantee) is to find the smartest one you can.

They Curse More

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Would you describe yourself as having the “mouth of sailor?” If you’re one of the millions of people around the globe who can’t say anything with adding a curse word, you are very smart.

Language Sciences conducted a study in 2016 that showed that people who curse more have larger vocabularies than those who done. Funnily enough, the study debunked an earlier one that tried to prove the more you cursed the dumber you were.

They Make Riskier Decisions

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Finland used a study to show that more intelligent people tend to make riskier decisions. It was determined that there is a correlation between adolescents who make dangerous decisions learning better decision making skills.

Confused? To break it down to science, those in the study who made more dangerous decision had more white matter in their brain. White matter is associated with cognitive function. The behavior might not look very smart, but these young kids might surprise you with their success when they’re adults.

They Trust Others

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Surprisingly, intelligent people tend to be more trusting of the people around them. Oxford University made this declaration and determining that trust was linked to high IQ. Before you click away, listen to the reasoning.

Intelligent people are so observant, that it’s not that they are more willing to trust anyone. They just choose who they trust more carefully. Before they give your their confidence, they vet you thoroughly in their minds.

They Lie More


Uh oh, the ability to lie convincingly is associated with higher intelligence. To be able to lie consistently, the brain has to be more developed. Anyone can lie, but if you’re telling the same lie over and over, you need to memorize it.

This ability to recall memory is greater in smarter people. Just don’t get caught with your pants on fire. You know how the song goes, so don’t let it become a reality. Just be honest!