Do you want to know if you are a genius or an average? Well, who doesn’t want to honestly! So, what are some unusual signs of high intelligence?

While you may be prone to take an online IQ test to gauge your intelligence. But, be mindful that there are certain limitations to it. These tests are designed to examine certain aspects of your personality like problem-solving, logical reasoning, and memory.

However, they lag far behind when it comes to measuring other skills that you might possess like creative thinking or emotional maturity. IQ tests might be a good option to know how you excel in certain skills. But, it does not indicate how you perform in other aspects. Also, there are different types of intelligence existing in humans. So, one single test cannot be a reliable source to know about your intelligence.

Here are psychologically proven 10 unusual signs of high intelligence. These might give you a clear picture of where you stand on the intelligence scale accurately without relying on tests of limited scope. But, before that, we need to know what intelligence is?

What is intelligence?

Intelligence though a seemingly simple word has different connotations to it. According to Merriam Webster intelligence is the ability to learn or understand or deal with new and trying situations. While another definition says that it is the ability to apply prior knowledge in a given situation. Also can be called ‘mental shrewdness.’

While a Research Gate publication considers it an ability to learn from experience. And the ability to adapt to shape, and select environments. To put it in simple terms, intelligence for me is the ability to apply and acquire knowledge and skills. These skills range from cognitive thinking to logical reasoning to emotional maturity. Therefore, intelligence when seen through this lens is the ultimate personality assessment of an individual.

How does a person deal with stress? How do people deal with a situation they have never faced earlier? Or, how do you perceive things and develop an opinion? These are all the variables that come into play while testing the intelligence of an individual. It is thus unfair to any individual to give them a score of their intelligence based on tests that merely gauge their memory or problem-solving skills.

Now, that we have defined intelligence we’ll move on to the 10 unusual signs of high intelligence. Helping you know where you stack up against your peers. 

10 unusual signs of high intelligence

1- You are an empath

Can you perceive the mental or emotional state of another individual? Are you sensitive to another person’s experiences and feelings? Or, do you have trouble fitting in? If yes, then you are a highly emotionally intelligent person.

Empathy is regarded as the core component of emotional intelligence. Empaths are emotionally mature individuals. They don’t go around doing whatever they want no matter what the situation or the circumstances it lands them in. Rather, empaths take into account their surroundings and behave in a way appropriate to the situation.

Although the excessive sensitivity to other people’s emotions and experiences affects them immensely. Still, being empathetic does nothing more than their personal development. When you can realize how others feel. Or, where are they coming from you become a lot more accepting of them? You start understanding the crux of a human being and that makes you a highly emotionally intelligent person. And understanding is all that an individual requires from another in this world.

So, if you are sensitive to the feelings and emotions of people around you. And respond in a way appropriate to their needs, you have high intelligence. Not only do you know how people think and act.

But, you also understand what the possible solutions can be to their situation. Only when you look through the lens of empathy would you realize how important of a skill it is. It makes you understand the perspective of your close relationships. Also, empathy makes you understand consumer psychology and devise solutions appropriate to the changing needs of the time.

2- You exercise self-control

Another unusual sign of high intelligence is having self-control. Self-control refers to the ability to control yourself from temptations and impulsiveness. Or, instant gratification in pursuit of some higher and later goals. It is the act of regulating your emotions and behaviors to stay focused on the achievement of specific goals.

For example, when I started on my weight loss journey 4 years ago, I had deliberately decided to cut down on sugar. Reducing my portion size, and hitting the gym 6 days a week for 30-40 minutes daily. It was not an easy journey though. There were instances when I had to just eat a small portion of my favorite food.

There were times when I would be struggling to go to the gym for my daily grind. Most of the time I had to ignore my cravings for a third scoop of ice cream. But, during all this time I had one ulterior motive. That constantly flashed in my mind when I was about to slip off the path.

The thought of a healthier and fitter me was my constant source of motivation to exercise self-control. Though I had my fair share of cheat days and cheat meals. But, had I given in to these temptations every time? Would I never be able to achieve what I aimed for?

Interestingly, research published in Science Direct reassessed the relationship between self-control and intelligence in a sample of US children. also proved that children with a higher score intelligence exercised better self-control. Yet another Research Gate Journal suggests that those who can govern themselves in the face of temptations enjoy the many benefits. Not to mention higher intelligence as well.

So, though self-control is overlooked at times, it is an unusual sign of intelligence to look at.

3- You have a strong self-identity

The third unusual sign of high intelligence is having a sense of self. Sense of self or generally known as self-identity is the quality of being aware of who you are. It is knowing what your strengths and weaknesses are, and what you aim for in life.

If you are aware of your personality traits. With your likes and dislikes, your goals & aspirations, your strengths & weaknesses, and your moral values then you have a strong self-identity. Being aware of your core values and your goals helps you emerge as a stronger individual.

Now, this does not only mean being aware of your insecurities but also being accepting of them. If you know that you can’t write well but are well-versed in communicating verbally. Then, you don’t beat yourself up for the weakness you have. Rather a strong individual works on their weaknesses while honing their strengths.

So, do you want to develop a strong sense of self? Then you can start by asking some seemingly inconsequential questions like;

Who am I?

What are my strengths and weaknesses?

How do I feel about a certain issue?

What do I stand for in life?

Where do I want to go?

Once you start exploring yourself, you’ll how much strength you gain from only knowing and accepting who you are. This is why it counts as one of the unusual signs of high intelligence. So, work on your self-identity just like you work on perfecting any other skill. You’ll experience a boost in your intelligence with it.

4- You are creative

If you can think out of the box and present unique solutions to extremely difficult problems then it is another sign of high intelligence. Creativity is often linked with arts and design. But, psychologists have long concluded that creativity is linked with high intelligence.

A Lumen learning course on introduction to psychology says that according to Robert Sternberg creativity is one aspect of intelligence. In his Triarchic theory of intelligence, Robert sees intelligence as comprised of three parts i.e. analytical, practical, and creative. Creativity for him is finding novel solutions to unexpected and complex problems.

For instance, just look at the recent innovations in the tech industry. Most of the tech giants ruling the industry today exist due to the creative idea of a person. Apple, Windows, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Alibaba, etc. were just some creative ideas of few extremely intelligent individuals. From the phenomenal Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci to Coca Cola an all-time favorite of everyone. From Gucci to Chanel the most famous luxury brand houses. One thing that is common in all of them is creativity.

So, creativity is a vital form of intelligence that compels people to come up with innovative and out-of-the-box ideas. It goes beyond the application of knowledge. Rather, it requires molding of knowledge and past experiences which only a creative soul can do. Thus, Robert Sternberg is right when he says Creativity is the highest form of intelligence in his Handbook of Creativity.

5- You are highly adaptable

Are you quick to lose sight when life throws a challenge at you? Or, do you tend to find a way around things and adjust accordingly? Well, adaptability is one of the key components and an unusual sign of high intelligence.

Some people are just good at adjusting to new situations. They are quick to devise new ways and face the challenges which life throws at them. While other not-so-intelligent people find it hard to wrap their heads around changing situations.

Adaptability also stems from creativity. It is indeed a sign of a creative mind that is not rigid in its ideas and perspectives. For me, creativity and adaptability are two sides of the same coin. If you are creative then you can also adapt to new circumstances.

Another aspect of adaptability is the ability to face adversity with resilience. It is the art of recovering from the many challenges of life that only an adaptable person can do. If ever you have survived through extremely difficult times when it was hard for you to meet both ends. But, still, you didn’t give in to hopelessness. Rather, found humor in that situation as well then you have high intelligence. Research also suggests that people who tend to find humor even in the face of adversity have higher intelligence.

So, you can also increase your intelligence by adapting to new environments. Start by being molded with unexpected situations because rigidity will only break you.

Related; 6 Simple Ways to Cope with Stress

6- You have an inquisitive mind

People with high intelligence can be easily distinguished from the lot for their insatiable palate of curiosity. If you always have a thirst to learn more about anything in life then you have high intelligence.

As Oliver Jeffers, an Irish illustrator, artist, and writer rightly says,

‘Curiosity is the surest sign of intelligence.’

Oliver Jeffers

For it is this curiosity that led Einstein to conclude that energy and mass are the same things. It is this curiosity that led Newton to discover the laws of gravity. It was the thirst for knowing more that made all these amazing innovations possible. If none of these people from Einstein to Mark Zuckerberg had the passion to know beyond what’s told them we wouldn’t be enjoying the benefits of their innovations now.

The correlation between curiosity and intelligence has also been proved through various studies and research led by psychologists. According to Research published in 2016 psychologists pointed out that there are big five personality traits. Of all of their openness to experience i.e. thirst for knowing more is the strongest correlate of intelligence and creativity. They followed children since their birth. And found that those who were more inquisitive later scored higher on the intelligence test.

Thus, if you are curious about life and the people you meet then you may count yourself on the list of people with high intelligence. As it is the characteristic of only a smart individual.

7- You enjoy your company

People blessed with high intelligence are generally fond of spending time in solitude. Their comfort with themselves which translates from their strong self-identity makes them enjoy their own company. There is no want to stay around people rather, crowded places overwhelm them.

You may count yourself as an introvert. But you might have been unaware of the fact that it is also a sign of high intelligence. Research also proves that people with high intelligence are dissatisfied with life if they spend more time around people. Socializing and interacting drains their energy to the point where they feel unsatisfied with life.

This supports the fact that more socialization and interaction leave little room for introspective thinking. Socialization scales back on the time you could have spent to recharge yourself. This leaves little time for you to think about yourself. To Find solutions to any problems you might be dealing with or find ways of self-improvement. This is why introversion and intelligence are strongly linked together because both require you to spend time alone to relax.

Not to say that socialization is bad for you, but you know what works best for you. If you are getting enough time to spend in solitude then there’s no way you should hold back on the time you want to spend with your close relationships.

8- You loathe drama and conflict

People with high intelligence are very immersed in themselves. Finding their sense of self, seeking knowledge, being creative, and cherishing solitude that it leaves little room for conflict.

Apart from being at peace with themselves, they also have exceptional interpersonal skills which make them perfect peacemakers. Their ability to be open to different perspectives makes them perfect negotiators. People who tend to listen to different viewpoints are generally liked by people. This is why people approach them with the want of understanding rather than creating drama. 

So, you can also work on your interpersonal skills to enhance your emotional intelligence. For this, you may want to keep in mind the following tips. These will come in handy while being in a conflicting situation yourself or while resolving disputes of people around you;

1- You have to understand the body language of the people involved in the conflict. Understanding body language leads to a better understanding of the individuals. Those that are involved in the dispute. Helping you to devise amicable ways acceptable for both parties.

2- You should be open to different perspectives and opinions of people. Every person has a viewpoint. Sometimes your viewpoint would be entirely different than theirs. But, instead of shutting them, try listening to them at least.

3- Be empathetic in your interactions, which has already been discussed above.

4- Encourage people to be open to others’ viewpoints too.

5- Try not saying anything while in an arousal state because it will only make the situation more hostile.

Once you start employing these tactics in your interactions you’ll realize how blissful peace is. You’ll also talk less and unless it is a complete necessity because that’s also an unusual sign of high intelligence.

9- You have a knack for wit

I am all for humor and wit. People who have a good presence of mind and who can be humorously witty are so attractive. Not only attractive but also someone with high intelligence.

Science also proves that humor ability predicts intelligence. People with a good sense of humor mostly, comedians, humorists, or anyone in general, score higher on intelligence tests. This is particularly true for verbal intelligence. Their unique presence of mind and ability speaks tons of their intelligence. This enables them to turn even the most insignificant situations and things into something you can burst out laughing on.

This ability also develops the tendency to weather away the challenges of life with a bit of humor. Just as discussed earlier dark humor is yet another unusual sign of intelligence. Because only a few gifted individuals can find humor in even the toughest of situations.

10- You are highly focused

Are you easily distracted by the slightest noise in your surroundings? Or tend to shut off distractions? Believe in the mantra of ‘What needs to be done is to be done no matter what? Well, a razor-sharp focus is yet another unusual sign of high intelligence.

A person’s ability to concentrate is linked with their intelligence. The higher the concentration level the higher the intelligence. Research also proves that people who have the habit of giving their undivided attention to anything ultimately had higher intelligence.

A 2013 survey published in BBC also proved a 71% correlation between motion suppression and high intelligence. The research involved an experiment in which people had to detect the movement of bars from left to right displayed on smaller and bigger screens simultaneously. Interestingly, people who scored higher on IQ tests had difficulty detecting the movement of bars on bigger screens than on smaller screens. This made scientists conclude that people with higher intelligence appear to be able to concentrate better.

While in this day and age, multitasking seems like getting more done in lesser time. But in reality, it cuts off on our efficiency. Science proves that multitasking makes our work less valuable and it takes longer to finish as well. Because our brain shifts our attention. This constant shifting of attention drastically cuts down on our productivity and efficiency. While you may get more done in less time but essence, everything done is merely just 50% of your abilities.

Related; 12 scientifically proven ways to improve focus


Wanting to know where you stand on the intelligence scorecard is pretty human. But, intelligence is a complex construct. There is no simple way which can explain intelligence. Rather, scientists are still researching the signs of high intelligence. For some, it is the ability to understand other people while for others it is humor and concentration. However, intelligence is certainly more than memory or problem-solving skills.

About the Author

Sara Khan

Sara Khan is a writer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. She aims to inspire and motivate people to live, love, and laugh wholeheartedly.

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