5 min read 

Have you heard of Quora? It is a question-and-answer site where questions are asked, answered, edited and organized by its community of users. More than 100 people have answered the question “What are the common traits of highly intelligent people?”. We have gathered these replies into a short list of 7 traits which mark intelligent people.

They’re highly adaptable

Several Quora users noted that intelligent people are flexible and able to thrive in different settings. Recent psychological research supports the idea intelligent people adapt by showing what can be done regardless of the complications or restrictions placed upon them.

Intelligence depends on being able to change your own behaviors in order to cope more effectively with your environment, or make changes to the environment you’re in.

They understand how much they don’t know

The smartest folks are able to admit when they aren’t familiar with a particular concept, intelligent people “are not afraid to say: ‘I don’t know.’ If they don’t know it, they can learn it.”

A classic study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, which found that the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your cognitive abilities.

They have insatiable curiosity

Albert Einstein reportedly said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.”

Research published in 2016 suggests that there’s a link between childhood intelligence and openness to experience — which encompasses intellectual curiosity — in adulthood.

Scientists followed thousands of people born in the UK for 50 years and learned that 11-year-olds who’d scored higher on an IQ test turned out to be more open to experience at 50.

They’re open-minded

Smart people don’t close themselves off to new ideas or opportunities. Intelligent people are “willing to accept and consider other views with value and broad-mindedness,” and that they are “open to alternative solutions.”

Psychologists say that open-minded people — those who seek out alternate viewpoints and weigh the evidence fairly — tend to score higher on intelligence tests.

They’re really funny

Highly intelligent people tend to have a great sense of humor.

Scientists agree. One study found that people who wrote funnier cartoon captions scored higher on measures of verbal intelligence. Another study found that professional comedians scored higher than average on measures of verbal intelligence.

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They have high self-control

Scientists have found a link between self-control and intelligence. In one 2009 study, participants had to choose between two financial rewards: a smaller payout immediately or a larger payout at a later date.

Results showed that participants who chose the larger payout at a later date — i.e., those who had more self-control — generally scored higher on intelligence tests.

They’re sensitive to other people’s experiences

Smart people can almost feel what someone is thinking/feeling.

Some psychologists argue that empathy, being attuned to the needs and feelings of others and acting in a way that is sensitive to those needs, is a core component of emotional intelligence. Emotionally-intelligent individuals are typically very interested in talking to new people and learning more about them.

Do you have anything to add? Noticed any traits that you possess?

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