9 signs you’re genuinely smart, according to psychology

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Being genuinely smart isn’t just about having a high IQ or being a whiz at trivia.

According to psychology, there’s much more to intelligence than that. It’s about how you think, how you interact with the world around you, and how you solve problems.

If you’re curious to know if you’re part of the genuinely smart club, psychology has some answers.

And all it takes is knowing what signs to look for.

Here are 9 signs that you’re genuinely smart, according to psychology. Dive in and see if any of these apply to you.

1) You’re curious

Being curious isn’t just about asking a lot of questions; it’s about digging deep to understand the “why” and “how” of things.

Smart folks are always on a quest to learn more, diving into different subjects and expanding their knowledge.

It reminds me of a quote by Albert Einstein, who said, “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

If you’re the type who’s always on the lookout for new info and eager to unravel the mysteries of the world, guess what? You might be really smart!

And don’t forget, it’s not about knowing it all; it’s about the hunger to know more.

2) You embrace change

Adapting to change is a sign of intelligence. Smart people don’t fear change, they see it as an opportunity.

For instance, I remember when I was first introduced to a new software system at work. Instead of resisting the change and sticking to the old ways, I dived in headfirst. I spent hours learning the ins and outs of the new system, adapting my work process, and finding ways to make it more effective.

It was challenging, sure. But it also led to increased productivity and efficiency in my work.

If you’re like me, embracing change rather than shying away from it, you’re displaying a sign of genuine intelligence.

As Charles Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives,
not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

3) You enjoy solitude

While society often equates being outgoing with being smart, research tells a different story.

According to studies, those who prefer spending time alone tend to have higher intelligence.

This is not to say that smart people are antisocial. Rather, they value solitude because it provides time for reflection, self-exploration, and deep thinking.

It’s in these quiet moments that many great ideas are born.

If you find comfort in your own company and use that time for introspection, you’re showing another sign of genuine intelligence.

4) You’re self-aware

Self-awareness is a key characteristic of genuinely smart people. They are not only aware of their strengths, but also their weaknesses.

They understand their emotions and how these emotions affect their thoughts and actions. They’re often reflective, analyzing why they think or behave a certain way.

This level of introspection helps them to continually grow and improve.

A study highlighted in Frontiers in Psychology explores the relationship between self-efficacy and emotional intelligence, including aspects like affective self-awareness.

It found a significant correlation between emotional intelligence and self-efficacy, suggesting that individuals with higher emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, also tend to have higher self-confidence and self-efficacy

If you find yourself frequently engaged in self-reflection and conscious of your own behaviors and motivations, this is a strong indicator of your intelligence.

5) You’re adaptable

Life’s unpredictability often catches us off guard, throwing curveballs our way when we least expect them.

Genuinely smart individuals excel in adapting to these changes and pivoting when necessary.

They’re adept at modifying their thought processes and strategies based on new information or changing circumstances.

This adaptability is closely tied to problem-solving skills, as it requires quick thinking and creativity in coming up with solutions.

The importance of adaptability in intelligence is eloquently summed up by Alfred Binet, a renowned psychologist known for his work on intelligence.

He stated, “Intelligence is the ability to take and maintain a certain direction, adapt to new situations and have the ability to criticize one’s actions”​​.

This quote encapsulates the essence of adaptability in intelligence. If you’re someone who can fluidly adjust to different situations and navigate through life’s twists and turns, this is a testament to your intelligence.

It’s about being flexible, resourceful, and capable of reevaluating and adjusting your actions as needed.

6) You’re empathetic

True intelligence isn’t just about logical thinking and problem-solving. It also involves emotional intelligence, and a big part of that is empathy.

Smart people are often deeply empathetic, able to understand and share the feelings of others.

They can see things from other people’s perspectives, which allows them to connect on a deeper level.

A study in Frontiers in Psychology looked at how emotional smarts (EI) and empathy are connected.

They had 856 people in the study and found that the better someone is at understanding emotions (emotional intelligence), the better they are at empathy.

This means that being emotionally intelligent helps you understand and feel what others are feeling.

This research shows that being good with emotions, including empathy, is a part of being smart overall.

If you find yourself frequently feeling with others, not just for them, this is a sign of intelligence. It shows that you have the ability to navigate complex emotions and human interactions, which is a key aspect of emotional intelligence.

7) You’re a problem-solver

Being a problem solver is definitely a sign of smarts. It’s not just about cracking tough puzzles or equations. It’s about spotting everyday issues and coming up with smart solutions.

Take a page from Thomas Edison, who once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Like when I was younger and started a lawn care service to help with family finances.

It wasn’t just about money; it was learning about hard work and business.

If you’re the type who sees problems as chances to do something cool, that’s real intelligence at work.

8) You appreciate other perspectives

Smart folks know they don’t have all the answers. They’re always open to hearing what others think. This is because different people bring unique experiences and insights, offering fresh ways to look at things.

It’s a bit like what Stephen Hawking said: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”

If you’re someone who digs different viewpoints and values varied opinions, you’re showing some serious smarts.

It’s about being open-minded, thinking critically, and being keen to learn more about the world and its many views.

9) You’re a lifelong learner

Above all else, genuinely smart people are lifelong learners. They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and an ongoing curiosity about the world.

They’re always seeking to learn new things, whether it’s picking up a new skill, reading about a different culture, or exploring a scientific theory.

This love for learning keeps their mind sharp and continually expanding. If you’re someone who never stops learning, you’re displaying perhaps the most significant sign of genuine intelligence.

Final thoughts: It’s about growth

Ultimately, being genuinely smart is not just about your abilities or accomplishments. It’s about your mindset and your approach to life.

It’s about being curious and open-minded, constantly seeking to learn and grow. It’s about being adaptable, able to navigate change and solve problems. It’s about having emotional intelligence, understanding others and yourself.

Being genuinely smart means recognizing that you don’t know everything. It means embracing the journey of lifelong learning, seeing every experience as an opportunity to learn something new.

So if you recognized yourself in these signs, remember that intelligence is not a stagnant trait. Continue nurturing your curiosity, empathy, and adaptability. Keep learning, keep growing, and keep embracing this journey of life with open arms.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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