14 Signs of a High IQ: Are You Secretly a Genius?

We will teach you how to recognize the most common signs of a high IQ and determine whether you might qualify as a genius.

14 Signs of a High IQ: Are You Secretly a Genius? main image

Intelligence is one of the most crucial traits for all animals, including humans. So naturally, being able to recognize the signs of a high IQ can help us with many important things in life, such as developing confidence and choosing the people we surround ourselves with.

If you have no idea what signs to look for, you’ve come to the right place. Our experts have gathered to make a thorough list of clear indicators of high intelligence based on their professional experience and scientific literature.

So, let’s dive right in.

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14 Signs of High Intelligence

14 Signs of High IQ

14 Signs of High IQ

The intelligence quotient, otherwise known as IQ, is a score that determines how developed your thinking faculties are. Usually, IQ is measured using a standardized test with a set of tasks that test deductive reasoning, analytical skills, and pattern recognition.

However, people who show signs of genius are often recognizable even without a test. All you need to do is pay attention to the common indicators, which we will describe below.

#1. Good Memory

A classic sign of a high IQ is the ability to quickly memorize information and integrate it into the existing knowledge base. As a result, you can easily recall it when necessary and apply it in real-life situations.

However, when we speak about good memory, we don’t mean only declarative memory that feeds our crystallized intelligence with facts and experiences. We also refer to working memory—the short-term memory responsible for holding information necessary for solving cognitive tasks.

Both of these memory types are highly developed in intelligent people. In other words, they can easily recall past events, but they also excel at memory-related tasks and games, such as chess, which requires memorizing and recognizing specific openings, movement patterns, and piece positions.

#2. Solid Decision-Making Skills

Everyone makes a wrong decision sometimes, and people with high IQs are no exception. However, they are usually characterized by sound judgment, which allows them to choose the correct path more often than not.

But what is the connection between a high IQ and good decision-making skills?

To make good decisions, you need to be able to anticipate and examine all potential outcomes and weigh their pros and cons. As a rule, people with high IQs have both excellent analytical skills and memory capabilities, which allow them to recall similar situations from the past.

As a result, they have a much easier time visualizing the path ahead in all possible scenarios as well as selecting the one with the desired outcome.

#3. High Level of Curiosity

A woman looking through a magnetic lense

A woman looking through a magnetic lense

Unsurprisingly, highly intelligent people show a great deal of interest in the world around them, whether it’s gathering new experiences or increasing their knowledge of various subjects.

There’s often no limit to their curiosity—they will keep asking questions until they fully understand the topic from all angles. They don’t settle for simple answers either. If they sense there may be aspects of the topic they don’t understand, they will do their best to remedy that.

However, this thirst for knowledge also has its negative side. Namely, people with high IQs are more likely to experiment with drugs, as this constitutes a new experience as well. They, of course, understand the potential consequences, but their curiosity often wins.

#4. Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving skills entail analyzing and systematizing information, adapting to new circumstances, and applying knowledge gathered from experience to develop innovative solutions.

All of these skills require great creativity and flexibility of the mind, both of which are characteristic of people with high intelligence. Their brains usually work faster, breaking down complex issues into digestible chunks to understand them better and come up with more effective solutions.

Taking all this into account, it’s unsurprising that people with high IQs excel at chess, puzzles, riddles, and brain teasers. Unsurprisingly, they are also exceptionally good at taking IQ tests, which are essentially collections of problems to solve.

#5. High Level of Creativity

A stereotype of a scatter-brained artist has convinced many that creativity and intelligence don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

However, that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, creativity may be considered the highest form of intelligence because it involves more than just information recall. Instead, it generates new ideas and original thoughts, going beyond the expected and obvious.

So, if we take a look at some of the most intelligent people in history, such as Einstein or Leonardo da Vinci, it’s easy to see how creative they were. Their versatility and originality weren’t only impressive in their respective times but still continue to impress today.

That being said, not all highly intelligent people are creative. Some are great at retaining and recalling information, recognizing patterns, and thinking analytically but show little interest in generating new ideas. So, you can’t equate a lack of creativity with a lack of intelligence.

#6. Substantial Intuition

Intuition is often perceived as a sixth sense that allows you to know the truth or come to the correct conclusions seemingly without any thought or evidence. It’s almost like a light bulb that pops up in your head, and you can rarely explain where it came from.

However, although intuition may sound like a mysterious superpower, it’s actually a common sign of a high IQ.

Essentially, people with high IQs are excellent at picking up cues, recognizing patterns, and connecting the dots. Their brains are so accustomed to these processes that they do them automatically and subconsciously.

Then, when the brain synthesizes all the information behind the scenes, it reaches a conclusion and presents it to the conscious mind. As a result, this knowledge that seemingly came out of nowhere may surprise even the person who commands it.

#7. Ability to See the Bigger Picture

A particularly recognizable sign of a high IQ is big-picture thinking, or the ability to see the forest despite all the trees.

In other words, highly intelligent people don’t get bogged down by the details when facing a new situation or solving a problem. Instead, they keep their eyes on the whole picture, which helps them understand its far-reaching implications as well as the steps that need to be taken to achieve the desired result.

That’s not to say highly intelligent people don’t do well with detail-oriented tasks. They can perform those just as well, but they never lose sight of the wider angle and their role in the grand scheme of things.

#8. Pattern Recognition Capabilities

Pattern recognition involves recognizing regularities in our surroundings and making sense of a seemingly chaotic environment. In many ways, this capability is crucial for learning, identifying objects, people, and concepts, and predicting future events.

Since pattern recognition is a skill measured on IQ tests, it’s obviously one of the clearest signs of a high IQ. Thanks to your ability to recognize patterns, you can understand how events are connected and use logic in your day-to-day life.

All of this directly influences your decision-making capacity, which, as we’ve seen, is highly developed in intelligent people.

#9. Language Proficiency

A person speaking and reading multiple languages as signs of high IQ

A person speaking and reading multiple languages as signs of high IQ

Language proficiency and the ability to quickly master new languages are clear indicators of linguistic-verbal intelligence. However, they also signify general intelligence, as language directly impacts our thinking and communication.

So, if you are articulate, have a vast vocabulary, and easily communicate your thoughts, you’re likely highly intelligent.

Moreover, people with high IQs are usually better at influencing others with their words or persuading them to accept their solutions and points of view. They understand how to effectively use language to their own advantage.

However, the correlation between mastering foreign languages and a high IQ is a bit less clear. As a rule, people who quickly pick up new languages have high IQs. However, highly intelligent people don’t always excel at learning languages—many speak only one and struggle to learn another.

#10. High Emotional Intelligence

Although it’s easy to picture highly intelligent people as geniuses who struggle with expressing and understanding human emotions, this image has little in common with reality.

On the contrary, high IQ often comes with developed emotional intelligence, as intelligent people have an easier time identifying and understanding their own and other people’s emotions, as well as adequately responding to them.

In other words, one of the most obvious signs of a high IQ is excellent interpersonal skills.

However, that’s not to say that all people with high IQs are empathetic and able to connect with others on a deep level. There are, of course, those who struggle with this and exhibit signs of lower emotional intelligence.

#11. Self-Awareness

Highly intelligent people spend a lot of time self-reflecting and thinking about their own strengths, weaknesses, opinions, and values, as well as ways to grow and improve.

As a result, they are often highly self-aware and have a deep understanding of who they are, what they want, and what their standing is in relation to others. That often gives them an air of confidence and self-reliance characteristic of people with developed intrapersonal intelligence.

Still, this confidence usually doesn’t come across as arrogance because highly intelligent people are aware they always have room for improvement. Therefore, they seek constructive feedback from mentor figures and constantly work on themselves.

On the flip side, increased self-awareness may lead to self-doubt, especially if the person focuses on their weaknesses. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for highly intelligent people to feel inadequate or minimize their own achievements, feeling they don’t measure up to truly great minds.

#12. Perfectionism

Perfectionism as a trait for people with high IQ

Perfectionism as a trait for people with high IQ

Do you ever find yourself unsatisfied with your work even when others have sung nothing but praise for it? Aside from clearly being a perfectionist, you most likely have high intelligence.

Highly intelligent people often have a clear vision of what they want to achieve, and when this vision doesn’t align perfectly with their actual achievements, they may feel disappointed. As a result, they’re likely to keep tweaking and improving their work even once it’s completed.

Unfortunately, it’s rare for a perfectionist to fully appreciate their achievements, no matter how great they are. They’re usually convinced they could’ve done even better or that their work can’t compare to that of other brilliant minds in their fields.

While perfectionism can serve as motivation to work harder, it can also lead to mental exhaustion due to the immense pressure perfectionists put themselves under. So, it’s important to find some middle ground and appreciate your achievements, even if they are flawed.

#13. Susceptibility to Mental Disorders

Unfortunately, a high IQ doesn’t only come with perks; there are a few drawbacks, too. The most concerning one is the susceptibility of highly intelligent people to mental issues, especially mood disorders, ADHD, and anxiety.

A 2017 study conducted on the members of American Mensa, a society for people with high IQs, showed that highly intelligent people struggle with mental illness more often than the general population. That might be due to the so-called “hyper brain,” a heightened cognitive capacity that affects the psychology of high-IQ people.

However, keep in mind that the research on this topic isn’t entirely conclusive, with several papers attempting to disprove this claim.

#14. Open-Mindedness

Contrary to expectations, people with high IQs don’t always feel the need to be right, nor do they stick to certain views and refuse to change them. In fact, a common sign of a high IQ is the ability to stay open-minded and think critically about your own beliefs and opinions.

As a result of their open-mindedness, highly intelligent people enjoy reading about opposing viewpoints, meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures, and seeking new experiences. They look for ways to enrich their lives and feed their minds with new perspectives.

Signs of High IQ in Children

Signs of High IQ in Children

Signs of High IQ in Children

Children can exhibit signs of a high IQ at a very young age, but they are somewhat different from those encountered in adults.

If you’re wondering whether your child has a high IQ, pay attention to the following signs:

  • Early reading skills. According to research, most kids learn to read at six or seven, around the time they start going to school. However, exceptionally intelligent children may begin reading as early as three years old—a certain sign of a high IQ.
  • Curiosity. All children are curious—they’re just learning about the world, after all. But if your child is especially inquisitive, constantly asking questions about their surroundings and the concepts and ideas they encounter, they are most likely gifted with high intelligence.
  • Impressive vocabulary. You likely won’t be able to have a deep, thought-provoking conversation with your toddler, but you might be surprised by how much they can express. That’s especially true for children with high IQs—they learn to speak earlier and quickly pick up even more complex words.
  • Quick learning. Highly intelligent kids are like sponges that will soak up any information you present to them. From picking up vocabulary to learning facts about animals or basic mathematical operations, nothing seems beyond these children’s capabilities.
  • High sensitivity. Children with high IQs may be more sensitive to criticism and better attuned to their surroundings than their peers. As a result, it’s important to approach them with particular gentleness and care.
  • Good sense of humor. If your child is wittier than you’d expect from someone their age, they’re likely highly intelligent. Of course, a child’s sense of humor won’t be as nuanced as an adult’s, but you may be surprised by some gems you hear from them!

Characteristics & Behaviors of Highly Intelligent People

Although we’ve discussed signs of high IQ in adults, it might be difficult to recognize traits such as perfectionism or self-awareness in other people. So, let’s go over some specific behaviors these people frequently exhibit.

Here are the most common ones:

  • They enjoy reading. Do you know someone who always has a book in their hand or frequently discusses literature with others? This is a common sign of a high IQ, as these people love books—especially those that introduce them to new perspectives and challenge their minds.
  • They gladly try new things. Highly intelligent people need stimulation and new experiences to give their minds some material to chew on. So, you’ll often see them traveling, joining various clubs, learning new languages, or even just trying unusual dishes at their favorite restaurant.
  • They are innovative. You probably have at least one coworker who always comes up with new and improved ways to do a task or creative solutions no one else could’ve thought of. This coworker likely has a high IQ, as it is usually responsible for out-of-the-box, creative thinking, and inventiveness.
  • They don’t brag about intelligence. Most highly intelligent people don’t put much stock in their own intelligence. In fact, they are so aware of their limits and shortcomings that they may come across as unusually humble.
  • They like their alone time. Most highly intelligent people need some alone time to think and self-reflect—a trait often linked to introversion. However, it’s important to note that extroverts can be just as intelligent as introverts, and there is no significant correlation between high IQ and introversion.

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Can You Increase Your Intelligence?

The short answer is yes; you can technically increase your intelligence, or at least receive a higher score on an IQ test, if you train your brain and work on your cognitive abilities.

For example, you could take up new hobbies to teach your mind to think in novel ways and adopt new perspectives. We recommend chess, learning a new language, or playing an instrument, as these activities have a proven positive impact on your brain.

In addition, you should read books—the more, the better. There are plenty of fantastic non-fiction books that will teach you about the world and introduce you to concepts you’ve never considered before. But fiction can be just as effective, especially at developing empathy and broadening your horizons.

Finally, if your goal is a higher score on an IQ test, consider doing puzzles and brain teasers and doing practice tests. That way, you’ll train your brain to think in a problem-solving mode and improve your analytical skills and deductive reasoning.

Key takeaways

Key Takeaways

Signs of a high IQ are easy enough to recognize as long as you know what traits and behaviors to look out for.

Aside from typical ones, like good memory, pattern recognition, and problem-solving abilities, some often overlooked signs include self-awareness, high emotional intelligence, creativity, and open-mindedness.

If you recognize some of these traits in yourself, you’re likely highly intelligent. But even if you don’t, you can always develop your cognitive abilities by reading, playing chess, and taking up other hobbies that challenge your thinking.

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