Science, Now + Beyond

You wouldn’t believe that these signs point to a high IQ

There are some things which just can’t be learned.

Over the past few years, research has revealed links between high IQ scores and certain curious behaviors and situations. Many of these are inherent to your nature and not something that could be learned or forced. 

Ironically, a number of these high IQ traits are exact opposites of what society generally associates with smartness, and more in line with what’s assumed as being disrespectful or of bad character.

1. You’re messy

Four women are working at a large, messy table together. Papers, stationery, drinks and other assorted work materials are spread all around.
[Image description: Four women are working at a large, messy table together. Papers, stationery, drinks and other assorted work materials are spread all around.] Via rawpixels.com on freepik
Marie Kondo won’t like it but, apparently, a cluttered desk is a creative desk so say the researchers at the University of Minnesota.

According to them, “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”

2. You’re lazy

Two women are sitting side-by-side on a couch, reclined, in a sun-lit room. They both have their eyes closed.
[Image description: Two women are sitting side-by-side on a couch, reclined, in a sun-lit room. They both have their eyes closed.] Via katemangostar on freepik
Or rather, you prefer to chill out on a sofa and cash in some daydreaming time as opposed to heading out for a run. A study published in the Journal of Health Psychology by Florida Gulf Coast University found that those who enjoy engaging in deep thinking are less active than those who only think as hard as they need to.

3. You have a dark sense of humor

Two brown-haired woman sit outside in a field. They're both leaning into each other as they laugh.
[Image description: Two brown-haired woman sit outside in a field. They’re both leaning into each other as they laugh.] Via freepik
Humor falls on a spectrum, and understanding certain jokes requires a form of mental agility as you must recognize sudden shifts in meaning.

One study found that those who appreciate dark humor test higher on verbal and non-verbal IQ as well as low aggression, than those who didn’t. This is because dark humor jokes are seen as a “complex information-processing task”.

4. You’re a night owl

A dark-haired girl in a ponytail and glasses is sitting at her desk in the dark. She is working on her computer, late into the night.
[Image description: A dark-haired girl in a ponytail and glasses is sitting at her desk in the dark. She is working on her computer, late into the night.] Via freepik
Early to bed, early to rise, makes a… yawn, sorry, didn’t get enough sleep last night.

While waking up early has its merits, those whose internal clock keeps them up late tinkering into the night not only have a higher IQ but are also more creative among other benefits. This is backed up by a number of studies including one published in the Personality and Individual Differences journal.

5. You swear. A lot

A light brown-haired woman in a blue tee is suppressing a smile as she covers her lips with her fingers.
[Image description: A light brown-haired woman in a blue tee is suppressing a smile as she covers her lips with her fingers.] Via katemangostar on freepik
How many times have you heard that people who swear have a limited vocabulary? Turns out they’re wrong because a study published in the journal Language Sciences showed that a rich swearing vernacular is a sign of rhetorical strength.

It’s even better if you can name a high number of swear words in a minute. Just don’t swear in front of kids.

6. You have a tendency to overthink

A brown-haired woman in a white ensemble sits stressed at her desk with a laptop in front of her. Her eyes are scrunched closed and her fingers are placed against her temple.
[Image description: A brown-haired woman in a white ensemble sits stressed at her desk with a laptop in front of her. Her eyes are scrunched closed and her fingers are placed against her temple.] Via yanalya on freepik
Research suggests that worrywarts and ruminators possess higher intelligence than their easy breezy counterparts. The former has also shown to test higher on verbal skills while the latter ranked higher on non-verbals.

Those suffering from anxiety disorders have shown similar results as people with more severe symptoms ranked higher than ones with milder symptoms.

7. You took music lessons

A young red-haired girl is playing the violin. She is in a blue dress.
[Image description: A young red-haired girl is playing the violin. She is in a blue dress.] Via sarab123 on Pixabay
Turns out music isn’t just good for the soul, but the mind too.

Studies found that picking up an instrument not only improves IQ but academic performance as well. And the longer the studies, the larger the effects as well. It is especially effective when instilled at a young age. Researchers theorized that learning around an instrument prepared students to better handle mental challenges.

8. You’re the oldest sibling

Two young girls of different ages stand next to each other by a jacked-up vehicle. They're both dressed in work overalls and are holding tools in their hands. They're both smiling and have a little grime on their faces.
[Image description: Two young girls of different ages stand next to each other by a jacked-up vehicle. They’re both dressed in work overalls and are holding tools in their hands. They’re both smiling and have a little grime on their faces.] Via freepik
If you’re the oldest sibling, the next time you’re in an argument with your younger ones be sure to throw this fact at them because you do know better.

A few studies found that the eldest generally tend to score two to three points higher and scientists theorized that it’s because the oldest usually takes on a teaching role, thereby reinforcing their own learning.

The nature of these studies is interesting as they suggest that “bad habits” are actually signs of intelligence. Could they have spawned from a deep-seated need for self-affirmation? Well, even if they did, science has spoken and it’s all aces.

So the next time you’re feeling down about overthinking, being “lazy”, messy or the eldest  – remember that these are signs of your intelligence.