There are many misconceptions about highly intelligent people – among the most debated being how to identify them. Albert Einstein himself once said “It is not that I’m so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.” Indeed, many people agree that the truest measure of intelligence is not in what a person already knows. Rather, it can be found in their capacity for new thought and novel ideas.
Here are three surprising signs that you may be smarter than the average bear:
1. A good sense of humor.
We don’t usually think of the class clown as being the smartest in the room. However, the ability to make people laugh requires a tremendous amount of abstract reasoning and critical thinking skills, as well as a strong capacity for verbal intelligence. A 2008 paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology examined humor as a measure of sense of humorsense of humor
what the authors called “mental fitness”. They concluded that their research “lends support to the prediction that effective humor production acts as an honest indicator of intelligence in humans.”
A few years later, researchers at the University of New Mexico tested hundreds of subjects on abstract reasoning, verbal intelligence, and their ability to write a good joke. The results showed that both general and verbal intelligence correlated strongly with the subject’s ability to produce humor.
They also found that the funnier test subjects were more likely to get laid, suggesting that humans may have developed a sense of humor in order to indicate intelligence in a mating scenario.
Most early cultures discouraged children from writing with their left hand. Some even went so far as to punish them physically, and force them to write with their right hand instead. Sadly, this practice could cause not only emotional trauma, but learning delays as well. Fortunately, this mindset is now considered outdated and left handedness is widely embraced in the modern world. This is especially good news now that research has shown a natural preference for the left side of your body could be a sign that you are intellectually gifted.
A study conducted by the University of Athens found that, because left handed people were able to more effectively engage the right side of their brain, they performed much better on tests that involved mental flexibility, inhibitory control, and working memory than their right-handed counterparts. Left-handed people have also been proven to have a greater capacity for inventive thought. In one experiment, researchers found that the more a test subject favored their left hand, the better they were at tests of “divergent thought,” or the ability to form novel ideas quickly and easily.
Anyone who has ever had a nun slap their hand with a ruler can rest easy – she must have just been intimidated by your genius!
Anxiety is the worst. However, research shows that it might be your strong intellect that has burdened you with this often debilitating mindset. There has actually been quite a bit of research in this area, and it all seems to support the same thought: People with anxiety worry more because their brains are more active. In a wide range of studies, high IQ scores were found to correlate with high levels of anxiety, suggesting that an intelligent mind may just be a curse after all.
Ignorance actually is bliss. While this knowledge is unlikely to cure your anxiety disorder, you may find some comfort in knowing that you are not alone – and you are in especially clever company.