9 signs someone is highly intelligent but lacks wisdom and maturity, according to psychology

Tina Fey by Tina Fey | July 17, 2024, 10:10 am

Intelligence isn’t everything. There’s a big gap between being smart and being wise and mature.

Just because someone is clever doesn’t mean they’ve got their life together. They might be a whiz kid in the lab, but lack the wisdom to deal with real-world problems.

According to psychology, there are certain signs that give away someone who’s got brains but lacks maturity and wisdom.

In this piece, we’re going to explore these 9 signs. Read on if you’re curious about the difference between intelligence and wisdom, or simply want to understand yourself or someone else better.

1) They rely heavily on intellect

Brains over heart, that’s their mantra.

People who are extremely intelligent but lack maturity and wisdom tend to lean heavily on their intellectual abilities. They view every problem as a puzzle to be solved, often disregarding the emotional aspects involved.

The world of psychology tells us that this is a common trait in individuals with high IQs, but without the wisdom and maturity to balance it out.

They’re the kind of people who might ace every test at school but struggle to console a friend who’s going through a tough time. They can analyze a situation down to the last detail but may overlook the emotional undercurrents that could change the entire picture.

Intellectual prowess is indeed a valuable asset, but without wisdom and maturity, it’s like a car without a steering wheel. It can go fast, but it can’t navigate life’s twists and turns with grace and understanding.

So if you come across someone who consistently prioritizes logic over emotions, they might be highly intelligent but lacking in wisdom and maturity.

2) They struggle with emotional intelligence

Let me share a personal story to illustrate this point.

I once had a friend, let’s call him John. John was brilliant, always the top scorer in every subject. But when it came to understanding people and their emotions, he was often at sea.

One day, a mutual friend of ours was going through a break-up. She was clearly upset and in need of comforting words. But John, with his laser-like focus on logic and problem-solving, instead started offering advice on how she could have avoided the break-up.

It wasn’t what our friend needed at that moment. She needed empathy, understanding, and emotional support, but John couldn’t see past the ‘problem’ that needed solving.

This is a classic sign of someone who is highly intelligent but lacks wisdom and maturity. They struggle with emotional intelligence, which is the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions, as well as empathize with the emotions of others.

Being smart is great, but without emotional intelligence, it can be hard to build meaningful relationships or navigate life’s challenges effectively.

3) They tend to be overconfident

High intelligence often comes with a degree of confidence. After all, if you’re used to being the smartest person in the room, it’s easy to believe that you’re always right.

This overconfidence can manifest itself in various ways, from ignoring advice to taking unnecessary risks. It’s not unusual for highly intelligent people to believe they can outsmart any situation, even when they’re venturing into unfamiliar territory.

According to a study, people who consider themselves highly intelligent are more prone to the ‘bias blind spot‘. This means they fail to recognize their own cognitive biases, believing they are less biased than others.

This overconfidence and inability to recognize their own biases can lead to poor decision-making, a classic sign of lacking wisdom and maturity.

4) They struggle with change

While intelligent people often have an excellent understanding of complex concepts and ideas, they can sometimes struggle with change. This is particularly true when the change challenges their firmly held beliefs or ways of doing things.

This inability to adapt can stem from a kind of arrogance that comes from being used to being the smartest person in the room. They may believe that their way is the best way because it’s always worked for them in the past.

However, life is all about changes and adaptations. Wisdom and maturity involve understanding that there’s always something new to learn and that change is a part of life.

So if you see someone who’s intellectually gifted but resists change or struggles to adapt, they may be high on intelligence but low on wisdom and maturity.

5) They often lack patience

Highly intelligent individuals are often used to understanding concepts quickly and solving problems efficiently. This can lead to a lack of patience when dealing with situations or people that require more time.

This impatience can manifest in various ways – from frustration when learning a new skill, to impatience with people who don’t grasp things as quickly as they do.

Wisdom and maturity, however, come with understanding that not everything follows a linear, logical progression. Some things take time, and people have different rates of understanding and learning.

6) They struggle to form deep connections

In the journey of life, relationships and emotional connections add a depth that’s hard to measure but impossible to ignore.

Those who are highly intelligent but lack wisdom and maturity often struggle in this area. Their intellectual prowess might make for great discussions, but it doesn’t always translate into the ability to form deep, meaningful relationships.

They might be able to explain the most complex theories, but when it comes to understanding the intricacies of the human heart, they can be left puzzled.

It’s a reminder that intelligence isn’t everything. Wisdom and maturity help us navigate relationships, understand others, and truly connect on a deeper level.

7) They find it hard to accept their mistakes

Back when I was in college, I was always proud of my academic achievements. I was used to acing tests and being at the top of my class. But when I failed an important exam, it hit me hard.

Instead of accepting my mistake and learning from it, I spent days blaming the professor, the exam questions, even the weather on the day of the exam. It was difficult for me to accept that I had failed because of my own shortcomings.

This is a common trait among highly intelligent individuals. They’re used to being right, so when they make a mistake, they find it hard to accept. This can lead to defensiveness and an inability to learn from their errors.

However, wisdom and maturity involve recognizing that we all make mistakes and that there’s always room for growth and improvement. Accepting our mistakes is an important part of personal development.

So if you know someone who’s intellectually gifted but struggles with accepting their mistakes, they may have high intelligence but lack wisdom and maturity.

8) They overthink and worry excessively

High intelligence often comes with a tendency to overthink. After all, a brain that’s always active, always analyzing, can struggle to switch off. This can lead to excessive worry, as they consider every possible outcome, often focusing on the worst-case scenarios.

While being analytical can be a strength in many situations, it becomes a problem when it leads to unnecessary stress and anxiety. Wisdom and maturity involve understanding that not everything can be controlled and that worrying about the unknown rarely changes the outcome.

9) They dismiss the value of experience

Highly intelligent people often place a premium on knowledge and facts. They believe that book-learning is the key to understanding the world. However, they sometimes dismiss the value of experience, arguing that it’s subjective or anecdotal.

But wisdom and maturity come from understanding that life isn’t just about facts and figures. It’s about experiences, emotions, and relationships. There’s a depth to life that can only be understood through living it, not just studying it.

So if you know someone who’s always dismissing the value of experience in favor of cold, hard facts, they might be highly intelligent, but they’re likely lacking in wisdom and maturity.

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