6 signs you’re more intelligent than the average person, according to psychology

Whenever we hear the words “smart” or “intelligent”, I bet what comes to mind are images of Albert Einstein, IQ tests, and school, to name a few. Personally, I think of Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger, but you get my point.

But intelligence is so much more complex than doing well on standardized tests or performing well academically. It’s so much more than memorizing facts and figures and much deeper than computing large sums only in your head.

Intelligence can be seen in other ways, but it might not always be so obvious. Here, we will look at several signs that you (or someone you may know) is more intelligent than the average person, according to psychology.

1) You high level of empathy

One indicator of above-average intelligence is empathy. Being empathetic is among five components of emotional intelligence, the others being self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, and social skills.

Empathy is crucial in building relationships with others, allowing people to share with each other their experiences, needs, and wants.

It requires neural networks to interact with one another thereby making one able to perceive how others feel, relate to those emotions and thoughts, see through others’ point of view, and to discern their own feelings from those of others.

Empathy was once believed to be unteachable, but research proved the contrary.

Some good ways to start practicing or improving your empathy include:

  • Learning to control impulsive emotions and behavior
  • Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
  • Paying attention to others’ feelings and concerns
  • Practicing clear communication with others
  • Learning to manage conflict

2) You like to be alone

Are you the type of person who finds much value in having a lot of me-time? It might surprise you to know that spending a lot of time alone suggests a high level of intelligence.

A study published in the British Journal of Psychology examined how population density and socialization with friends influenced life satisfaction and intelligence. 

Among their findings, it was seen that more intelligent people were less satisfied the more they socialized with friends.

This does not necessarily mean that highly intelligent people are snobs or that they don’t like people. It’s more about being able to think introspectively.

Introspection entails reflecting on your own thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. Through this, you can observe your own psychological processes and try to understand what you are thinking and feeling.

It is useful in cultivating self-awareness and gaining insight, which both are linked to better resilience and less stress. It also nurtures mental health, leading to more happiness and a greater capacity for empathy. 

In a work setting, introspection provides you with self-confidence and self-awareness. These qualities enable you to make better decisions, which is especially relevant for leaders.

3) You are self-aware

As we had been discussing in the previous point, self-awareness stems from looking within and reflecting on one’s own thoughts and emotions. 

But what is it, exactly?

Self-awareness has two general categories: internal and external self-awareness. The first is how we see into your own self–your beliefs, values, aspirations, as well as your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The second refers to understanding how other people see you based on those same factors. 

While internal self-awareness is connected to greater job and relationship satisfaction, personal and social control, as well as happiness, external self-awareness is associated with the ability to show empathy and see things from others’ perspectives.

However, becoming self-aware does not solely come from introspection. Solely looking within does allow you to know yourself, but it doesn’t help you challenge your own views or check for blind spots. 

True self-awareness comes from knowing who you are and what your goals are, while asking for feedback from others. 

A good way to foster this would be to ask yourself “What” instead of “Why”. When you ask yourself, for instance, “Why do I feel this way?”, you are actually looking for unconscious thoughts and feelings that you can’t access.

Instead, if you ask “What things do I do that make me feel this way?”, you are more objective and focused on the future. Once you have answers to your “what”, you can start taking necessary steps to improve or change.

Asking yourself “what” helps you see yourself more clearly and therefore know yourself more deeply. 

4) You are naturally curious

In the course of daily life, do you find yourself always wondering how something works or why something is the way it is? Are you always eager to learn or experience something new?

This desire for new knowledge–curiosity–urges people to explore their surroundings, whether physically or socially. It has long been viewed as the impetus for learning and development. 

A study examined epistemic curiosity (curiosity about new ideas, among others)–general knowledge, and fluid intelligence (such as reasoning, processing speed, and memory) in a group of students.

They found that epistemic curiosity promoted gaining knowledge by developing reasoning skills. They also suggested that people who are epistemically curious seek out new situations, and as a result, broaden their learning opportunities.

They tend to ask more questions and act in search of information. In an academic setting, students who scored higher on epistemic curiosity were observed to use deep learning techniques. 

5) You have an eye for the abstract 

Another sign of above average intelligence is fluid intelligence. This is usually exhibited by people who are good at abstract reasoning and problem solving, and is viewed to be independent of learning or experience.

Think back: have you ever been really good at finding solutions to tricky situations? Have you always found it easy to understand statistics, puzzles or abstract problems?

You may owe it to your fluid intelligence. This type of intelligence is widely thought to peak early in life, but there are ways to improve it. These include changing up your routine, flexing your creative muscles, and socializing regularly.

6) You are adaptable

Among all the life skills you should have in your arsenal, adaptability is arguably one of the most important.

As Charles Darwin is attributed as saying: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”

Circumstances change all the time, teaching us of the significance of being flexible and resilient. Adaptability can help you here. 

Adaptability refers to how willing you are to adjust your behavior or strategy based on your environment. People who can do this can keep up to changing demands or priorities. It involves being able to learn from your mistakes, accepting feedback, and changing accordingly.  

Final thoughts

There is much yet for us to learn about what makes up human intelligence. Regardless of how intelligent you thought yourself to be, one thing is for certain: some markers of intelligence can be learned.

Hopefully, this list helps you pinpoint where you could stand to improve and inspire others to do the same.

Louise Logarta

Louise Nichole Logarta is a content writer by profession, with experience crafting feature articles, editorials, and news articles. She has been published in noted Philippine broadsheets Philippine Daily Inquirer and The Manila Times. Topics of interest she likes writing about include relationships, current affairs, health, and pop culture. Travel, journal notebooks, fiction books, and iced coffee are some of the things she enjoys.

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