11 Odd Habits Highly Intelligent People Have


Have you ever gotten frustrated with yourself for being messy, staying up too late, or vegging on the couch? Don’t be so hard on yourself. 

It turns out that some of these seemingly negative habits can actually be linked to intelligence. So, next time someone labels you as lazy or absent-minded, take it as a compliment. It could actually be a sign that you’re smarter than most people. 

With that in mind, let’s look at some odd habits that highly intelligent people have. 

1. They’re Messy 

Thoughts of someone with a high IQ might conjure up images of a scientist wearing a lab coat in a bright white, sterile laboratory. But rarely do intelligent people work in such pristine conditions. 


In fact, their workspaces are often quite messy. It’s not that they’re slobs. Intelligent people just tend to be more creative, which can lead to messiness since they can easily become consumed by a problem or issue, putting orderliness on the back burner. And research backs this up. 


Studies show that disorderly workspaces promote creativity by inspiring freedom and new ideas. Orderly environments, on the other hand, can be restrictive in that they encourage conformity and discourage thinking outside of the box. 


2. They Like To Stay Up Late 


Television and movies often show creative geniuses furiously working on a new invention at all hours of the night. Indeed, those who go to bed later have been found to have higher IQs, and while there are several different theories explaining this phenomenon, workaholism isn’t one of them. 

One explanation ties this behavior to evolution. Since nighttime was generally more dangerous, our ancestors who had to work the ‘night shift’ had to be more intelligent to survive. 

Another evolutionary explanation might be that our creative predecessors would stay up all night due to varying circadian rhythms, something that’s been passed down through the generations as skewed internal clocks. 

Psychologists hypothesize that brainy individuals are also more introverted and therefore prefer the seclusion of nighttime so they can think without interruption. 

3. They Swear 


People often associate profanity with lower levels of education and intelligence, suggesting that when someone can’t find a more appropriate word, they fill their sentences with generic vulgarities. It turns out that the opposite is actually true. 


Those who know more curse words tend to have a more extensive vocabulary overall and linguistic ability is correlated with higher intelligence. 


So, it makes sense that smarter individuals know more curse words. They may not use them all the time though, since they also possess the ability to assess when and where it’s acceptable to use such language. 


4. They Take Cold Showers 


Several famous geniuses took advantage of the chill factor. Benjamin Franklin would swim in London’s chilly Thames river, while Theodore Roosevelt went winter skinny-dipping in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. It turns out that being immersed in cold water is an ancient practice that benefits the body and mind. 


Hippocrates even said that water therapy relieves mental and physical weakness. When the body is forced to quickly adapt to cold water, it triggers a shock, which pumps fresh blood to the brain and other vital organs, invigorating the body. It is also related to an improvement in mood and memory, which leads to increased productivity. 


5. The Sound Of Chewing Annoys Them 


People high in creative cognition can find the sound of someone chewing loudly or smacking their gum particularly distracting. This is because they’re unable to block out irrelevant sensory information including auditory disturbances. 


Similar to how brainiacs prefer working late at night, they favor quiet environments because it allows them to focus without distraction. 


6. They Doodle 


Have you ever looked over during a lecture and caught a classmate drawing in the margins of their notes? This could be a sign that they’re bored, but it could also mean that they’re smart. 


Doodling is a habit associated with intelligence. Not only is it involved in problem-solving and information processing, but it also aids in memory. 


In fact, studies show that people who doodle are able to recall 29% more information. Those seemingly thoughtless little squiggles act as an outlet for the visual expression of thoughts, emotions, and concepts. 


It’s not necessarily the doodling in itself that is an indicator of smarts, but that it allows the brain a break from intensely focusing on one thing so that the mind can subconsciously wander in the background. 


7. They Criticize Themselves 


Most people may associate intelligence with confidence. In reality, the opposite is true. Since highly intelligent individuals are more self-aware, they recognize that there’s a wealth of knowledge in the world and underestimate their abilities. 


They can admit when they don’t know something and actually tend to be more self-critical. The less intelligent, on the other hand, lack the self-awareness required to acknowledge their ineptitude. They simply don’t see their flaws or where they go wrong. 


8. They Daydream 


Like doodling, daydreaming can be a sign of heightened creativity and problem-solving skills. Intelligent people know that too much focus on one thing can cause you to overthink and miss the solution. 


Daydreaming allows the mind to wander while keeping the primary question in the periphery so that the brain can think about it from different angles and return with a fresh perspective. 


9. They Talk To Themselves 


When a person talks to themselves, they may appear somewhat coo-coo. But, it’s actually related to skills possessed by intelligent people, such as higher thinking, memory, and perception skills. 


Like mnemonic devices, saying the names of objects out loud allows for better recall of items on a list. This is because language isn’t just about communication. It actually amplifies perception and thinking. Saying things aloud activates visual properties in the brain for recall, enabling faster processing of solutions and ideas. 


10. They Like To Be Alone 


Intelligent people tend to be more introverted and content with less socialization outside of their circle of close-knit friends. It’s not that they’re incapable of socializing, but less is more for them. This, too, can be attributed to evolutionary reasons. 


Hunters and gatherers lived in small groups of approximately 150 people. Frequent contact within this circle was crucial to survival and reproduction. This need still applies today, but with social media and heightened stimulation, our brains can’t quite keep up. Those with higher IQs are typically more focused on long-term objectives than on socializing. 


11. They’re A Couch Potato 


Lazily lounging on the couch may seem like an unproductive waste of time. One might imagine that an intelligent person is always up and about, tackling the next question or project. In reality, those with active minds may be less active physically. Being sedentary may not be particularly healthy for one’s overall well-being, but it does allow for brain activity. 


Therefore, those comfortable sitting around can enjoy the mental action in their minds without unnecessarily expending physical energy. 


Non-thinkers were found to be more active than thinkers, and this may be due to the fact that non-thinkers are more easily bored and must be active to distance themselves from the negative experience of mental stimulation. 


So, what do you think? Do you identify with any of these habits? If so, do you take them at face value or do you think they could be linked to a higher intelligence? What are some other habits that you think might be rooted in being intellectually gifted? Share your thoughts and comments below! 


Thanks for reading! 


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