3 Signs of Genuine Intelligence That People Can’t Fake


What do we mean when we describe someone as smart? Some theories argue for measuring intelligence by IQ, while others consider things like academic and job success or intuition. So while there’s a range of opinions out there, more comprehensive studies have shown that intelligence isn’t just a fixed trait. Mic came up with a list of traits that indicate true, undisputed intelligence as opposed to just bravado or self-confidence. Check out our top three below.

You Learn From Your Mistakes

Smart people are able to accept their own failures and repurpose them into lessons for future success. In fact, a study on decision-making skills reports that critical feedback from a mistake results in better performance the second time around. So while errors and setbacks can be frustrating, highly intelligent people are able to perceive them as growth opportunities.

You See Both Sides of an Issue

When someone can articulately and convincingly argue every angle of an argument, they’re genuinely smart. Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, reveals the issues with assumptions; if someone is thoughtful and well-informed, they’re probably not faking their intelligence to get ahead. So while they’re really passionate and well-versed on a topic from their own perspective, if they haven’t evaluated all sides of an issue, they don’t understand it (or how to respond to it effectively).

You’re an Avid Reader

If someone doesn’t cite their sources but insists upon an opinion regardless of evidence, they’re likely exaggerating expertise. A simple way to check is by asking them what they do for fun. Beyond being a good way to gain knowledge about history or experiences that are different from your own, research shows that reading increases memory function, communication skills, and focus.