From swearing to staying up late: Here are the 10 surprising personality traits of highly intelligent people.
- Experts reveal the signs that might mean you’re more clever than your peers
- They include being left-handed, staying up late, worrying and being a cat person
- Other examples include being an older sibling, a cat person and swearing
You stay up late, worry about the future and never seem to be organised.
While these might not seem like the most positive traits, research has shown each of them is linked to a higher intelligence.
Now experts have revealed to MailOnline the ten surprising traits that might show people are more intelligent than their peers.
1. YOU ARE LEFT-HANDED
If you are left-handed you might need different scissors and struggle with the position of the mouse on most computers.
But, on the other hand, you might also be better at maths.
A study earlier this year found a significant link between people’s handedness and their ability to perform arithmetic tasks, but the correlation changes depending on age and gender.
Psychologists from the University of Liverpool and the University of Milan conducted a study involving 2,300 students in Italy aged between six and 17 years.
They asked them to complete a number of mathematical tasks, including simple arithmetic and problem-solving.
‘This study found there is a moderate, yet significant, correlation between handedness and mathematical skill,’ said Giovanni Sala, who conducted the study.
But the relationship is complicated.
‘We found that the degree of handedness predicted mathematical performance in different ways, according to age, type of task, and gender,’ Sala told MailOnline.
2. YOU ARE MESSY
Managers and office busybodies might be keen on a clean desk – but it seems in terms of productivity, they could have it all wrong.
A messy desk can actually lead people towards clearer thinking, researchers from the University of Groningen said in a 2012 study.
The researchers found in a series of linked studies – using a messy desk and a messy shop front – that people actually thought more clearly when all around was chaos, as they sought to simplify the tasks at hand.
Visual and mental clutter forces human beings to focus and think more clearly.
Famous thinkers and writers such as Albert Einstein and Roald Dahl were notorious for their untidy desks.
‘Messy desks may not be as detrimental as they appear to be, as the problem-solving approaches they seem to cause can boost work efficiency or enhance employees’ creativity in problem solving,’ the authors said.
Managers and office busybodies might be keen on a clean desk – but it seems in terms of productivity, they could have it all wrong. A messy desk can actually lead people towards clearer thinking, researchers from the University of Groningen said in a 2012 study
3. YOU SWEAR A LOT
Research in 2014 revealed people who frequently swear are more likely to have a bigger vocabulary than their clean-tongued peers.
A colourful tongue does not mean the talker is lazy or uneducated, the study published in the Language Sciences journal found.
Instead, those who are more confident using taboo words are more articulate in other areas.
Kristin and Timothy Jay, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts psychologists who co-wrote the study, said it proved swearing was positively correlated with verbal fluency.
‘We cannot help but judge others on the basis of their speech,’ they wrote.
‘Unfortunately, when it comes to taboo language, it is a common assumption that people who swear frequently are lazy, do not have an adequate vocabulary, lack education, or simply cannot control themselves.’
In their conclusion, they added: ‘The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal fluency, undermines the [normal] view of swearing.’
The average profile of a swearer is often sophisticated, like that of the swear word-loving government spin doctor Malcolm Tucker (played by Peter Capaldi) in TV political satire The Thick of It
4. YOU CAN MAKE PEOPLE LAUGH
There is a strong correlation between humour and general intelligence,’ Dr Gil Greengross, a psychologist at the University of Aberystwyth told MailOnline.
Dr Greengross focuses on humour and what makes people laugh.
In a study published in 2010, Dr Greengross and a colleague from the University of Mexico found a good sense of humour is sexually attractive because it reveals intelligence, creativity and other ‘good genes’.
‘The strongest correlation is with verbal intelligence as you might expect, as humour is mostly verbal,’ Dr Greengross said.
‘Humour signals intelligence because knowing to say the funny thing in the right time, and deliver it correctly requires skill.’
5. YOU STAY UP LATE
Night owls are more intelligent than people who get an early night, according to a study published in 2009.
It found that late risers tire less quickly than those who make a point of getting up at the crack of dawn.
The study is likely to be embraced by anyone tired of being branded lazy for their love of a lie-in.
And it added to growing evidence that it is night owls that rule the roost – previous studies had also found that those who rise later tend to be both cleverer and richer than early birds.
6. YOU DIDN’T HAVE SEX IN YOUR TEENAGE YEARS
In research in 2000, Dr Carolyn Tucker Halpern from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, found teens who engaged in sexual activities were less intelligent than their peers.
‘Teens with higher scores on the vocabulary test were significantly less likely to have had sexual (vaginal) intercourse,’ Dr Halpern told MailOnline.
The researchers tested teenagers’ intelligence using a vocabulary test called the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), and their results were surprising.
‘Even very “early” behaviours, such as holding hands and kissing, are inversely related to PPVT scores, suggesting that higher intelligence is associated with a generalized delay in the onset of all partnered sexual activities,’ Dr Halpern said.
‘We were not surprised by the relationship with coitus, however, we were surprised by the correlations with non-coital behaviors like holding hands.’
People who worry a lot tend to be more verbally intelligent, according to a study published last year
7. YOU’RE A WORRIER
People who worry a lot tend to be more verbally intelligent, according to a study published last year.
‘The study found that individuals who worried frequently, by thinking about potential future negative events, or who ruminated frequently, by revisiting negative past events over and over again, scored higher on verbal intelligence,’ Dr Alex Penney, from Lakehead University in Ontario, and lead author of the study, told MailOnline.
‘Meanwhile individuals who worried more often about recent social situations, thinking about being awkward or looking dumb in social situations, scored lower on non-verbal intelligence.’
‘We believe that individuals who are more verbally intelligent are able to consider past and future events in greater detail, leading to more intense rumination and worry.
‘That is, being higher in verbal intelligences makes you more likely to worry and ruminate.’
8. YOU TEND TO BE MODEST
This is called the Dunning-Kruger effect.
It describes how less competent people often rate their intelligence higher than it actually is, while more competent people rate theirs lower.
That’s why the ignorant people are often over confident, researchers say.
9. YOU ARE A CAT PERSON
Pet owners have long fought like cats and dogs about whether felines or canines make the best furry companions.
But a study in 2014 claimed cat owners are smarter than dog owners – regardless of their pet’s intelligence.
The research revealed that the owners of the two animals tend to have different personalities – with cat lovers being more sensitive and open-minded than dog lovers who are largely energetic.
The study by Carroll University, Wisconsin found that cat owners scored more highly on an intelligence test than dog owners.
A study in 2014 claimed cat owners are smarter than dog owners – regardless of their pet’s intelligence. A cat that is believed to belong to Julian Assange, is adorned with a tie and collar inside the window of the Ecuadorian Embassy, London
10. YOU ARE AN OLDER SIBLING
Research in 2007 showed older siblings generally have higher IQ scores than their younger brothers and sisters.
Professor Petter Kristensen, from the National Institute of Occupational Health in Oslo, Norway, led the study.
‘We found that second born sons who grew up as eldest (because of death of elder sibling) scored on average similar to biologic first-born,’ Professor Kristensen told MailOnline.
He said the link was probably not biological, but ‘rather due to social factors in the family environment.
‘This interpretation is in agreement with other studies, but we are cautious because we did not have data on the social and psychological climate in the family.’