15 Signs You’re Smarter Than You Think You Are

5 minute read

By Jordana Weiss

Many smart people are convinced they’re of average, or sub-average, intelligence. If you aren’t sure how smart you are, you can find out! Start a search today to explore some signs that prove you’re actually smarter than you think you are.

Many kids grow up not believing they’re truly intelligent, and some of these troubled kids grow into adults with ‘impostor syndrome’. That is, intelligent adults who live in fear of being exposed as a fraud. Take a look at this list!

You doubt your own intelligence

The key part of struggling with impostor syndrome is that you doubt your own intelligence. You don’t trust your own intelligence, so you downplay your smarts in situations where you’re around other people that you fear are more intelligent than you.

Research has shown that women and minorities suffer from impostor syndrome much more than white men — probably a by-product of centuries of being considered second-class citizens.

You’re unable to internalize your accomplishments

Another hallmark of someone suffering from impostor syndrome is the inability to internalize your own accomplishments, or give yourself credit for your hard work. This is visibly manifest in people who are proud of others for accomplishing a goal, but are unable to stop and congratulate themselves for the same milestone. This can lead to burnout, sleep deprivation, and overwork.

The next time you accomplish a goal but are unable to see anything but what still has to be accomplished, stop for a moment and try your best to savor your accomplishment.

You have anxiety

All this overwork from impostor syndrome can lead to some pretty serious anxiety. If you haven’t felt it before, it can start with a fluttering stomach and elevated heart rate, and can lead to a total collapse if you don’t get it under control in time.

People who are intelligent suffer from generalized anxiety at a much higher rate than people with a lower IQ. A study at an Ontario university recently found that students who checked the boxes saying that they were worried or anxious about something were often the ones who scored highest on verbal intelligence tests.

You started to read early

A study in Britain found that when one of a pair of twins started reading earlier than the other, that twin usually had the higher IQ.

Many people originally thought that because a child had more intelligence they started reading earlier, but that’s actually turned out not to be true. Researchers are now attributing the fact that these subjects have higher IQs to the fact that they were reading longer than their twins.

You’re proficient at an instrument, or at least studied one as a child

There are plenty of studies correlating the study of music to enhancements in verbal intelligence in children — and most of them were probably given as examples to you by your third grade piano teacher.

The fact is, your diligent piano teacher was right. Studies have shown that 90% of children who took some form of music lesson showed improvements in their IQ.

You’re politically liberal

As it was clear in the last election, being politically liberal usually means being in favor of more government intervention and regulation. That’s because most liberals acknowledge that it is human nature to be self-interested, and only by holding ourselves to it every four years can we continue being focused on the common good.

Acting against our own self interest for the good of the commons like this is a sign of higher than average intelligence.

If you’re a man, you don’t sleep around

The research for this claim is found in the same study as the one showing that liberals are usually more intelligent than conservatives. It is against a man’s biological nature to stick to one woman. In caveman days, it was most advantageous for them to get out and spread their seed around to make sure that some woman bore their heirs.

Now, by sticking to cultural norms instead of following their lizard brains, men show their intelligence more than someone who still believes it’s their right to sleep around.

You’re funny, and even funnier when you’re put on the spot

If you’ve ever seen someone heckled during a stand-up comedy routine, you know what we’re talking about here.

Coming up with funny one-liners in your basement is one thing, but someone who can continually come up with funny repartee is generally of higher intelligence than the average person. It takes high verbal intelligence and reasoning to make jokes that are both funny and appropriate for that very moment.

You can put yourself in someone else’s shoes

It takes a lot of guts to say you’re wrong, and often times intelligent people are the ones who apologize the most. This is because of their strong ability to empathize — they can easily put themselves in someone else’s shoes, and figure out why that person is upset or confrontational.

Reading another person’s body language or mood is often difficult, which is why a person can generally only do it if they’ve got a high capacity for emotional intelligence.

You’re an atheist

Studies have shown that atheists generally score much higher than people with strong religious beliefs on standardized IQ tests.

Is this because it takes a smart person to be an atheist, whereas religious people have just swallowed what they’ve been taught all their lives? Not necessarily. Take into account that countries run according to a religious doctrine are often poorer, and will often have a lower standard of education than countries where religion and state are separate.

You come from a smart family

Studies from two different countries have shown that children who are born to parents with higher IQs will have a high IQ themselves. Both studies looked at both identical and fraternal twins, and tested their intelligence with an eye to discovering whether it was genes or environment that determined your level of intelligence. The study came down hard in favor of genes.

You’re the oldest child in your family

For many years, the debate has raged about whether the fact that eldest children have been shown to be more intelligent is due to nature, or nurture. However, a study published in 2007 shed some light on the situation and showed that the eldest child’s boost in intelligence was more because of their interaction with their parents, not their biology.

You don’t smoke cigarettes

An Israeli study of over 20,000 people recently showed that there was a visible correlation between people who smoked more than 20 cigarettes a day are less intelligent than those who smoke less, or not at all. It was shown that those who smoked more than a pack of cigarettes a day had an IQ seven points lower (on average) than those who did not smoke.

However, it was unclear in the data whether smoking caused the drop in intelligence, or whether they got that result because less intelligent people tended to smoke more.

You were breastfed

A study done of more than 3,000 Commonwealth children showed that those who were breastfed were more intelligent than those who were formula-fed by an average of seven IQ points.

This supports the age-old adage that ‘breast is best’, and puts to shame all the advertisers and companies over the years who have tried to monetize feeding babies.

You didn’t lose your virginity until after your adolescence

A study put out at Penn State recently found that on average, adolescents who scored highest in the standardized IQ tests were more likely to be virgins. And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention that study they did at Wellesley where they broke it down by major. 0% of art majors were not virgins at the time of admission, whereas 83% of both math and biochemistry majors were.

While it’s unlikely that your virginity has influence on your intelligence, the argument can be made that intelligent teens and adolescents know that it’s smarter to wait until you’re emotionally ready to have sex instead of just inviting the first person into your bed who asks.

Jordana Weiss