8 signs you’re dealing with a highly intelligent person, according to psychology

Jose Martin by Jose Martin | April 4, 2024, 1:38 pm

Being smart and being highly intelligent isn’t the same thing.

It’s not just about how much you know but how you use that knowledge.

Psychology sheds light on this, revealing certain signs of highly intelligent folks—signs that might not be as obvious as you’d expect.

Why does it matter?

Well, spotting these signs can help you understand the people around you better, and hey, you might even recognize a bit of that intelligence in yourself.

So, here are eight signs that someone is highly intelligent, according to psychology.

Whether it’s your coworker, friend, or neighbor, these clues might just give you a fresh perspective on them.

1) They’re open-minded

A key sign of high intelligence, according to psychology, is open-mindedness.

The truth is highly intelligent people are often willing to accept and consider other viewpoints.

They don’t just blindly follow their own opinions, but instead, they’re eager to explore different angles, new ideas, and alternative solutions.

However, this doesn’t mean they’re easily swayed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

Highly intelligent people use this open-mindedness as a tool to weigh up all options and then form their own informed conclusions.

So if you find yourself in a discussion with someone who is actively considering different viewpoints rather than stubbornly sticking to their own, you might just be dealing with a highly intelligent person.

But take note that it has nothing to do with being indecisive – it’s about having the intellectual curiosity to seek out all available information before making a decision.

2) They’re constantly curious

One thing I’ve noticed about highly intelligent people is their insatiable curiosity.

They always seem to be asking questions, eager to learn more about a wide array of topics.

I recall a friend of mine who, despite being a renowned physicist, would constantly probe into subjects far removed from his field of expertise.

Honestly speaking, his curiosity seemed to know no boundaries.

He once told me that it’s this constant curiosity that allows him to apply different ideas and perspectives to his work.

For him, knowledge wasn’t confined to his domain but was a vast interconnected web where each piece of information had the potential to fit another.

So if you come across someone who never stops asking questions, don’t be annoyed. You might just be interacting with a highly intelligent individual.

3) They enjoy their own company

Highly intelligent people often relish spending time alone.

This isn’t because they’re antisocial, but rather because solitude gives them the space to think, reflect, and delve into their inner world.

Research conducted by psychologists at the London School of Economics and Singapore Management University found a correlation between high intelligence and lower levels of life satisfaction with more frequent socialization with friends.

In other words, highly intelligent people were happier when they had less social interaction.

This could be because these individuals find socializing to be distracting from their intellectual pursuits.

Do you know someone who prefers a quiet night in with a good book over a bustling party?

Don’t mistake it for aloofness. They might just be exercising their intelligence.

4) They’re highly adaptable

Another sign of high intelligence is adaptability.

Highly intelligent people have a knack for adjusting to change.

They’re not rigid in their thought processes or stuck in their ways.

Instead, they can adapt their thinking to new information and adjust their behavior to new situations.

Now, this ability isn’t just about surviving in a rapidly changing world. It’s about thriving in it.

These individuals can take in new data, pivot accordingly, and make decisions that help them navigate through life effectively.

In essence, if you notice someone who seems to take changes in stride, embracing them rather than resisting, you might be witnessing a sign of high intelligence.

Their ability to adapt and evolve is a testament to their mental agility and flexibility.

5) They’re self-critical

Highly intelligent people aren’t just critical of the world around them, they’re often self-critical too.

They have an innate ability to acknowledge and learn from their mistakes, rather than dismissing them or blaming others.

Here’s the thing: This trait is rooted in their desire for self-improvement.

They know that the growth path is paved with mistakes and that each misstep is an opportunity to learn and better themselves.

When someone owns up to their mistakes and strives to learn from them, rather than shying away or shifting blame, they show that they’re a highly intelligent person.

Keep in mind though, their self-criticism is not a sign of low self-esteem but a clear indicator of their commitment to personal growth and learning.

6) They value deep connections

Highly intelligent people often prioritize quality over quantity, especially when it comes to relationships.

You see, they tend to seek out deep, meaningful connections instead of surrounding themselves with a large number of acquaintances.

These individuals understand that real connection goes beyond surface-level chitchat.

It’s about understanding, empathy, and shared experiences. It’s about being there for each other in times of joy and sorrow and learning and growing together.

I bet you’ve come across someone who prefers a handful of close friends over a large social circle, but don’t mistake it for introversion or antisocial behavior.

They might just be a highly intelligent person who values the depth and meaningfulness of their relationships.

After all, it’s these deep connections that truly enrich our lives and give it meaning.

7) They’re always seeking new experiences

Highly intelligent people have a hunger for new experiences.

They’re not content with the status quo and are constantly seeking out new ideas, places, and adventures.

I remember when I was in college, I had a roommate who exemplified this trait. Despite her demanding schedule as a pre-med student, she would always find time to explore new hobbies or volunteer for unique opportunities.

One semester, she took up pottery classes. Another time, she signed up for a study abroad program in a country where she didn’t even speak the language. She said these experiences were opportunities to grow, to learn, and to step out of her comfort zone.

In short, seeking something new to learn or experience, could be a sign of their high intelligence.

These folks understand that life is a continuous journey of learning and growing, and they’re eager to make the most of it.

8) They understand how much they don’t know

A paradox of high intelligence is the awareness of one’s ignorance.

Highly intelligent people are acutely aware of the vastness of what they don’t know.

This understanding doesn’t discourage them but rather fuels their curiosity and desire to learn more.

The ancient philosopher Socrates summed it up best when he said, “I know that I am intelligent because I know that I know nothing.” This sentiment captures the essence of this trait.

Their humility and thirst for knowledge are clear indicators of their intelligence.

Moreover, they acknowledge their gaps in knowledge and show a genuine interest in learning and growing.

9) They question everything

The most important thing to grasp about highly intelligent people is their tendency to question everything.

They have an innate curiosity and skepticism that compels them to challenge accepted wisdom and dig deeper.

Here’s a fact about these individuals: They don’t take anything at face value.

Instead, they probe, analyze, and question until they understand the how and why of things. It’s this relentless pursuit of understanding that sets them apart.

So if you meet someone who consistently asks “why” and is not content with just the surface-level answer, you’re likely dealing with a highly intelligent person.

It’s likely their quest for knowledge is not just a sign of curiosity, but a testament to their intelligence.

Food for thought: Intelligence is multifaceted

The intriguing world of human intelligence is as complex as it is fascinating.

It’s important to remember that intelligence isn’t simply measured by an IQ score, or how much knowledge one can amass.

According to Harvard psychologist Howard Gardner, intelligence is a pluralistic concept with at least eight different types – linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalistic.

This theory emphasizes the diverse ways in which people can be intelligent.

So when you encounter someone displaying any of the signs we’ve discussed take a moment to appreciate the multifaceted nature of intelligence.

Remember that highly intelligent people aren’t just those who can solve complex equations or recall historical facts.

They’re also the ones who keep an open mind, value deep connections, question everything, and never stop learning.

So here’s to celebrating the myriad forms of intelligence that make our world a richer place.