19 Common Behaviors of Highly Intelligent People

Intelligent individuals often display a range of behaviors and qualities that set them apart from others. When exploring these characteristics, it’s crucial to comprehend that intelligence is a multifaceted attribute. Here are 19 essential behaviors and qualities frequently observed in highly intelligent people.

Being adaptable

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Curiosity isn’t a characteristic but a driving force for individuals. Their relentless pursuit of knowledge often leads them to explore areas that others may overlook. Insatiable curiosity plays a role in discoveries and groundbreaking innovations.

Being curious about the world

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For people, education doesn’t end with formal schooling. They view life itself as a journey, constantly seeking new knowledge and experiences. It’s often assumed that intelligent individuals are inclined towards reading. However, intelligence isn’t solely determined by the number of books one can read in a day. It’s more about having a curiosity about subjects, regardless of their form.


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Open-mindedness is another trait found among intelligent people. They are receptive to ideas and eager to learn from others, avoiding the influence of prejudices or stereotypes that can cloud judgment. Instead, they evaluate information and opinions based on their merits. They tend to question established norms and held beliefs, fearlessly challenging the status quo, leading them to form informed perspectives.

A sense of humor

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Intelligent people often possess a sophisticated sense of humor. They have the ability to find amusement in aspects of life, including their experiences, often appreciating more complex forms of comedy. This article on the World Economic Forum website speaks about how ‘Funny people are also more intelligent’. In it, research was conducted in Austria, and it was discovered that funny people, especially those who enjoy dark humor, have higher IQs than others.


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Self-control is also a quality exhibited by highly intelligent individuals. They often possess the self-discipline to avoid behaviors and apply their knowledge to make choices for their overall well-being. The ability to exercise self-control indicates maturity. It means having the capacity to manage your emotions and impulses responsibly so as not to cause any harm.

Unleashing creativity

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For intelligent people, creativity often involves combining ideas to create something new and insightful. Their creativity extends beyond art or innovation and involves thinking and making unique connections. Verywell mind says that ‘having higher than average intelligence might contribute to creativity.’

Embracing risks

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A key trait of intelligence is a willingness to take calculated risks. This inclination towards risk-taking is associated with a certain kind of brain structure, particularly in areas linked with cognitive capacity. The science behind intelligent risk-taking has also been explored in various studies.

Engaging in purposeful conversations

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This quote resonates: ‘Knowledge lies in having the answer; intelligence lies in asking the right question.’ Intelligent individuals engage in conversations purposefully. Andi Simon, an anthropologist and author of “Rethink; Smashing the Myths of Women in Business,” says intelligent people inquire not for the sake of asking questions but, to gain insights that can enhance their understanding of their thoughts, actions, emotions, and future expectations.

Approach to Knowledge

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Intelligent individuals acknowledge the boundaries of their knowledge. They are unafraid of admitting ignorance in certain situations. They also consistently demonstrate a humble and curious attitude, towards learning more.

Influence of Birth Order

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Does birth order influence intelligence? Possibly so. The study of how birth order relates to achievements has been the subject of interest among many scholars since 1874. Earlier studies, for example, claimed that firstborns (usually sons) would be more likely to have the financial resources to continue their education, or they would receive more attention and better nourishment in families with limited financial resources. Modern studies continue in this vein, focusing more on parental resources, which are finite and, as such, do not have the same resources to offer for second and third-born children.

Problem-solving skills and abilities

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Intelligent individuals excel at solving problems posed by complex and demanding situations. They utilize their faculties to analyze problems and come up with solutions. A recent study posted on Big Think questions the idea that having an intelligence score means processing information better. The study challenges the assumption that intelligence is solely determined by how our brains work. Instead, it suggests that being faster doesn’t always mean being better, especially when there’s a need for precision.

You’re perceptive

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Contrary to the belief that the smartest person in any given setting is often the most vocal one, the common thing is that highly intelligent people tend to be quite the opposite. Rather than boasting about their achievements or imposing their opinions on others as truths, they tend to adopt a more reserved and observant approach. By absorbing their surroundings and interactions with others, they can pick up on details and patterns that may go unnoticed by others.

Self-awareness and reflection

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Intelligent individuals often possess a sense of self-awareness. They tend to be introspective, acknowledging their strengths while also recognizing their weaknesses. Self-awareness stands as an attribute that empowers individuals to improve their attitudes and align them with their standards. By doing so, they gain an understanding of themselves and how others perceive them, demonstrating intelligence in its truest form.

Emotional intelligence

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Beyond abilities, emotional intelligence plays a role in personalities. Highly intelligent people excel at empathizing with others and effectively managing their emotions. Besides all the other qualities they possess, such as self-awareness, empathy, expressiveness, and perceptiveness, they also excel at managing their emotions and remaining motivated while striving for their objectives. Additionally, they exhibit skills and effectively utilize their emotional understanding to communicate.

Practicing critical thinking

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Intelligent people typically approach situations with a mindset. They thoroughly evaluate information before accepting it, ensuring they have an informed perspective. They are skilled critical thinkers and can analyze all kinds of information in an objective manner, as well as assess arguments to help make informed decisions.


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Demonstrating perseverance in the face of challenges is a characteristic of highly intelligent individuals who often exhibit this emotional intelligence, which enables them to overcome circumstances and setbacks easier than the next guy.

Being Independent

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Independence is important to them, as they value and demonstrate the ability to think and act on their own. They possess a sense of fierce independence, both in their thoughts and their approach to life. They are inclined to seek out truths and derive the underlying principles behind phenomena. Also, many individuals with high intelligence tend to dislike bureaucracy and rules that lack reasoning.

Attention to detail

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Being endowed with a memory and a sharp eye for detail is frequently regarded as a characteristic of intelligent individuals. They possess the capacity to retain large amounts of information and detect the most minute particulars that might escape others’ notice. If you possess an aptitude for recalling facts, figures, and intricate details, it might indicate your exceptional intelligence.

Being empathetic and compassionate

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This goes hand in hand with having a level of intelligence, as per this article written by licensed psychotherapist Christine Scott Hudson. According to her, there is a correlation between empathy and effective verbal comprehension. In terms of when someone possesses empathetic traits, it is likely that they also excel in understanding and comprehending information. So, if you tend to prioritize your emotions, it’s highly probable that you also engage your intellect in decision-making processes.


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