8 signs you’re a lot smarter than people give you credit for, according to psychology

You don’t have to be the biggest brain box going to be clever.

Psychology tells us that true intelligence comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Yet not everyone appreciates that.

Their own biases mean that they may not recognize how smart you really are.

But don’t let their misguided assumptions get to you.

If you recognize the following signs, then experts say that you’re likely a lot smarter than people may give you credit for.

1) You don’t brag about your abilities

You’re the first to admit when you don’t know the answer or can’t do something.

Owning up to your limitations is a sign of strength, not weakness. But people don’t always offer you the credit you deserve for that.

Not only is it a sign that your ego can handle it, but psychologically speaking, it’s also a hidden sign of intellect.

Take comfort in the knowledge that the smarter you feel, the dumber you are. That’s because of a phenomenon known as the Dunning-Kruger effect.

It says that people who know less tend to overestimate their abilities. Meanwhile, those who know more than they think often underestimate their skills.

So don’t worry if you fear your gifts are going overlooked, just because you aren’t shouting them from the rooftop.

Because quietly behind the scenes, your humility is actually proof that you’re smarter than others may appreciate.

2) You ask lots of “dumb questions”

Here’s the thing that we have to remember:

Nobody is born knowing anything.

The information that someone else thinks of as “obvious” is only because they’ve already learned it. But that doesn’t mean it’s obvious to you yet.

Some people can be condescending and try to make others feel stupid for what they have yet to learn.

But by scoffing at you, they’re just trying to make themselves feel superior.

The way we expand our knowledge and learn about things we don’t understand is by asking questions.

There’s always a risk that doing so can open you up to ridicule from those who like to think they know more.

But far from making you dumb, the truth is that asking plenty of questions is actually a sign that you’re smarter than they are giving you credit for.

It’s also a positive sign of the next thing on our list.

3) You’re interested in the weird and wonderful things in the world around

 Maybe some of the topics you find fascinating other people don’t see the appeal in.

They may even try to make you feel like you’re stupid for taking such a keen interest.

Unique tastes and preferences in particular can mean others fail to appreciate your niche expertise or knowledge.

But whether your interests have popular appeal or not, it’s all a sign of something very important:


Psychology says this quality is fundamental when it comes to growth, learning, and expanding upon what we know.

Not only that, but as pointed out in Psychology Today it is important for our mental health too.

“Practicing curiosity is associated with enhanced psychological well-being, grit, subjective happiness, and meaning in life, as well as lower rates of depression and fewer negative emotions.”

4) You’re known for joking around

 The so-called class clown is all too often dismissed.

When you make light of life, people don’t always take you seriously.

But the joke is on them because a strong sense of humor has been linked to having a higher IQ.

It’s been argued that this is one of the reasons people find a funny partner so appealing.

Because it’s actually a reflection of hidden intellect.

As explained in The Conversation:

“Researchers in Austria recently discovered that funny people, particularly those who enjoy dark humour, have higher IQs than their less funny peers. They argue that it takes both cognitive and emotional ability to process and produce humour. Their analysis shows that funny people have higher verbal and non-verbal intelligence, and they score lower in mood disturbance and aggressiveness.”

The bottom line is that you need a sharp brain to come up with witty things to say.

5) You’re prone to worrying about stuff

 I had an ex who would treat me a bit like a child, mocking and dismissing me over my concerns. They’re an ex for good reason!

You see, I am what I’d call a natural worrier.

But rather than a sign that I was “just being silly” like he would protest, it is actually a side effect of my conscientious and considered nature.

Here’s what he didn’t realize:

Research has found a link between anxiety and high intelligence.

As pointed out in Psych Central, complex characters can have hidden depths that make them more prone to mental health problems.

“Recent research has found that those with higher intelligence may be more likely to experience worry, anxiety, and other mood disorders. People with higher IQs often have an increased sense of awareness, deeper levels of empathy, or a fear of failure — all may result in more worry and stress.”

6) You lack common sense

Here’s the thing about common sense:

It’s shaped by experience, not necessarily intellect.

That’s usually why wisdom tends to increase as we age — the more we’ve gone through, the more understanding we usually gain about how to handle life.

But Professor of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Michelle vanDellen, argues that in reality there’s no such thing as common sense in the first place.

“No one is likely to agree about what common sense is. Sometimes these differences will be reasonable—what’s common sense in a city is not the same as what’s common sense in a small town. But other times these differences could be problematic, especially because people are likely to be biased by what they want to do. The more people want to do something, the more they are going to think it fits into the category of common sense.”

Whats more, not doing or saying the expected thing may even be a sign of high IQ.

According to research there are lots of instances where “intelligent people with high levels of technical ability are seen (by the majority of the rest of the population) as having foolish ideas and behaviours outside the realm of their professional expertise. In short, it has often been observed that high IQ types are lacking in ‘common sense’ – and especially when it comes to dealing with other human beings.”

Part of the problem is the narrow way we tend to view intelligence in the first place, as we’re about to see.

7) You make people feel good about themselves

Someone who excels in math or science is probably our stereotypical idea of what being smart is.

But this oversimplification doesn’t match up with the multifaceted reality of how intellect shows up in the real world.

These prejudices mean that we often don’t give enough credit to things like social and emotional intellect.

That’s despite the fact that many vital skills develop from these forms of intellect, making it easier to get ahead in life as well as get along with others.

  • You know how to work a room
  • You can be incredibly charming when you want to be
  • You’re a good listener
  • You get a good read on people
  • You show others understanding and empathy
  • You are able to manage conflict
  • You know how to say the right thing (and avoid putting your foot in your mouth)

There’s a really long list of benefits that come from being able to tune into the people around us.

It tends to make you more likable.


For the simple reason that these sensitivities towards others mean you have a knack for making them feel good.

8) You prefer to quietly watch from the wings

Not everyone does their thinking out loud. But that doesn’t make you any less mart than those who do.

When you prefer to avoid making yourself the center of attention, there’s a danger others will overlook or underestimate you.

For example, you may be the last to volunteer an idea in a group meeting or you prefer not to offer your opinions unless explicitly asked.

The introverts in this world are usually all too aware that extroverts can steal the limelight because they are more noticeable. 

But life’s quiet observers tend to pick up on things that others may miss. That’s why this skill is often a secret superpower.

It’s been noted that those with high IQ scores often have superior observation skills.

They are more alert to their surroundings, they hone in on details, and this alloaws them to piece things together.

Ignore what others say and focus on your own growth

Growth demands that we are prepared to fail.

That means the more you mess up or get it wrong, it’s a positive sign you are learning.

Smart people are more concerned about that than they are about what others think of them.

It’s bound to frustrate you when others treat you like you’re stupid.

But before you let it get you down, remind yourself that their condescension is a reflection of their own psychological inadequacies and not yours.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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