10 signs you’re mentally sharper than the average person, according to psychology


 By Paul Brian | April 19, 2024, 11:08 am

How smart are you? 

It’s a deceptively simple question, because the truth is there are many different forms of intelligence.

The two primary types are crystallized intelligence which is your level of knowledge and fluid intelligence, which is your ability to understand concepts and complex reasoning processes. 

So what are the signs that you’re much mentally sharper than the average person? 

Let’s dive in and take a look: 

1) Modesty about your intelligence

Mental acuity is hard to assess for yourself. 

Extremely smart people tend to underestimate how smart they are

If you feel like you’re smart but don’t think you’re all that smart, chances are you may be smarter than you realize. 

This is known as the Dunning-Kruger syndrome in which people who are less intelligent tend to overestimate their own intelligence and vice versa. 

“Smart people often underestimate their brain power,” writes psychology researcher Shana Lebowitz.

“That idea is backed up by a Cornell University study conducted by social psychologists David Dunning and Justin Kruger.”

2) Intense curiosity and desire to know more

How curious are you?

Extremely intelligent people have an intense sense of wonder about life and about learning new information. 

This speaks to fluid intelligence, or the capacity to understand and comprehend new concepts, ideas and systems. 

You always want to know more and find out something you don’t understand, and you’re never satisfied by easy answers or thought-terminating cliches.

You want to know more! 

As neuroscientist Dr. Matthias Gruber writes

“Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information, like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn, and also everything around it.”

3) Reading started at an early age

You started reading at a young age and had an intense desire to read early on. 

Reading is a type of verbal intelligence that relates directly to mental ability, and when you have a sharper mind than most, it’s something that comes easy to you. 

You started reading relatively early in life and have continued as you matured. 

Psychological studies back this up, showing that starting reading early correlates with high intelligence. 

This psychological study from the UK found that identical twins had higher intelligence among the twins who had learned to read earlier.

4) You practice active listening

Active listening is a key attribute of the highly intelligent man or woman. 

If you resonate with this then it’s something that you’ve cultivated throughout your life:The willingness and ability to hear what somebody’s saying as well as listening between the lines. You understand what they say and you take in what it means and the unexpressed fears, desires and ideas behind what they’re saying. 

You don’t just skate along the surface, you go deeper. 

As licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Catherine Jackson says:

“In a world where people talk to prove who they are, highly intelligent people are the opposite.”

5) You tackle problems in unique ways

A key sign that you’re mentally sharper than most is that you have unique problem-solving abilities

You tackle things from unique angles and you see challenges in different ways that others don’t see at first. 

It’s natural for you to think outside the box and your highly analytical point of view is able to approach issues from a multi-faceted mindset that takes into account many angles and subtleties of a situation. 

This isn’t something everybody can do. 

“An intellectual approaches challenges with an analytical and even skeptical mindset, eager to work through a maze of scenarios,” notes psychology researcher Cassidy Morrison.

6) You have a very sharp memory

Memory and mental acuity go hand-in-hand. 

As Jackson points out, “a good working memory and general intelligence is highly correlated.”

If you find that you often recall specific details of people, situations, conversations and locales, you are likely much smarter than most individuals. 

The truth is that many neurologically sound people just don’t remember much and the reason is that they don’t perceive and observe a lot of what goes on around them. 

You, by contrast, take in every small detail even when you don’t really want to and have a highly specific memory. 

7) Small talk bores you to tears

There’s a time and a place for chit chat, but your tolerance for it is minimal. 

If people are going to stand around talking about the latest reality show or Rihanna, you’re heading for the exit as soon as possible. 

You’re just not interested. 

If the topic was a bit deeper or more relevant you might be engaged, but when it’s just repeating shallow cultural trends and narratives you are bored to the point of nausea. 

“The smartest people often hate small talk the most. They’re not nearly as interested in the weather or what sports teams other people’s kids are on. Many smart people simply get bored,” notes Morrison.

8) Body intelligence

Mental sharpness doesn’t only extend to the mind, but also to the body. 

This type of intelligence, known as bodily-kinesthetic, relates to your mental ability to correlate your body movements with your mental decisions and intentions.

This is much more than just flexibility, it’s the ability to remember, replicate and innovate on patterns of movement and function that you’ve done before or are doing for the first time. 

“High bodily-kinesthetic intelligence can translate to better dexterity and coordination. You remember patterns of movement and you can also replicate them without much effort,” explains psychology writer Crystal Raypole.

9) Ambiguity doesn’t threaten you

Having clear black-and-white answers is satisfying, but you are able to tolerate and accept ambiguity. 

You can tackle questions, problems and topics from multiple angles and you’re able to understand that there are many shades of gray. 

This doesn’t mean truth is necessarily “subjective” or “purely relative,” but it does mean that simple answers aren’t always true. 

Rather than frustrating you, this only piques your curiosity and desire to get closer to meaningful and accurate answers about existence, life and everything else you come across and experience. 

As this Norwegian psychological study found, “people with this mind-set could develop more sophisticated problem-solving techniques and interests, developing in turn higher fluid and crystallized intelligence.”

10) You do your best to prepare for the unexpected

As a person of sharper mental acuity than most, you do your best to be prepared. 

Everyone can be blindsided at times, of course, but you do your best to be adaptable and forewarned.

You know that many challenges in life can be anticipated if we approach them with rationality and foresight. 

So you do your best to do that while also remaining flexible if and when change occurs. 

As Raypole writes:

“Adaptability is a key component of intelligence. It describes your ability to adjust to new situations or changing events. This trait can also connect to resilience, which is your ability to recover from adversity.”

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