19 Common Behaviors of Highly Intelligent People

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By Jonathan Trent

Highly intelligent people tend to be complex individuals with multiple unique behavioral traits in their personalities. Some are easy to spot, and some are more nuanced, but regardless, here are 19 common behaviors that highly intelligent people will often exhibit. 

Spending Time Alone

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Highly intelligent people are not worried about spending time alone; instead, they revel in the thought of it. According to Business Insider, intelligent individuals tend to be more individualistic, gaining less satisfaction from social situations than most, so it makes a lot of sense!


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Daydreaming tends to be labeled as negative, but in reality, it’s actually a sign of creativity and a bright mind. Highly intelligent people need time to think, even if this thinking takes place during a time when it probably shouldn’t. Who knows; they could be dreaming about their next big invention!

Showing Empathy

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One of the clear signs that somebody is of above-average intelligence is that they will have a heightened level of emotional awareness. They will be able to connect with others on a deeper scale, showing empathy when it is required, as their intelligence is emotional, not just academic.

Highly Observative

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Highly intelligent people are deep thinkers and naturally observe situations and their surroundings with a greater level of detail than most. They spot certain things that would fly over the heads of most, which is an undeniably frustrating experience, as they can’t talk to people about their observations.


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Intelligent individuals have likely been made aware of their gifts since they were young, and unfortunately, this can lead to perfectionism. Harvard Business Review explains that, for this reason, perfectionists experience higher levels of stress and anxiety because they feel that they have to constantly live up to high standards.

They’re Lazy

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Unfortunately, highly intelligent individuals aren’t perfect and will often be accused of laziness. However, this is probably because the task at hand isn’t providing them with enough mental stimulation, so if you see a smart person being lazy, throw a challenge at them!

Using Logic

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People with a high level of intelligence approach situations with logic, seldom rushing into decisions on a whim. They retain a level of coolness and composure when in high-pressure situations and will always be the person to think outside the box to avoid errors in judgment.

Broad Vocabulary

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Highly intelligent people often feel the need to explain things with the correct level of detail, meaning they’ll search for the exact words required to make their point. Such precision will inevitably result in the person using a wider range of vocabulary than most, which is a delight to listen to.

They Challenge Ideas

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While most people will accept a situation or technique for what it is, highly intelligent people won’t be afraid to challenge it. Even when practicing the most ancient practices, they won’t shy away from considering new, smarter alternatives. This often makes them polarizing people, but they are innovators all the same.


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Creativity goes hand in hand with intelligence, with many of the intellectually superior able to push boundaries and create new ideas far beyond someone of average intelligence. Creativity isn’t a given for the intelligent, though; the National Library of Medicine points out that brain power only increases creativity to a certain level.

Accepting of Knowledge Gaps

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Many people pretend to know something that may seem obvious to others to save themselves from the embarrassment of ignorance, but this usually backfires. Intelligent people will, instead, see this as an opportunity to learn, asking questions about the topic to expand their knowledge base with honesty.

Adapting to Difficult Situations

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While some people may crumble when thrown into the deep end, highly intelligent people will be able to adapt to their surroundings rapidly. Their minds are wired to grow and learn in every environment, and this could be very useful if they find themselves in danger.

Open Mindedness

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A highly intelligent person needs not to operate with a closed mind, as it prohibits their ability to progress further. They can relax their ego to accommodate new ideas with relative ease. After all, who knows when a new perspective could change the world!


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One of the most liberating behavioral traits shown by highly intelligent people is their increased level of self-awareness. This allows them to navigate their way through life with a greater sense of direction and purpose, understanding what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at.

They Persevere

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Intelligence comes with an understanding that success takes time and will only reveal itself if you have patience and perseverance. They will also be able to recognize that adversity is a challenge to overcome rather than a threat to run from, making them truly resilient and stoic individuals.

Exceptional Memory

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If someone starts reeling off detailed accounts of seemingly insignificant things that happened a long time ago, they’re either making it up or possessing a high level of intelligence. This is because their brain links memories to emotions and senses rather than storing them as facts, which are far more forgettable.

They Enjoy Dark Humor

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Studies have found that people with higher IQs tend to find more enjoyment in dark humor than those with lower IQs. This makes a lot of sense when you consider that The Guardian deems intelligence to play a key role in both the understanding and appreciation of jokes that toe the moral line!

Mild Temper

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There is a direct correlation between aggression and lower intelligence, with intellectuals rarely seeing a need to rise to provocation with their fists. A lot of aggression stems from a lack of understanding of how to properly process thoughts when being antagonized, something that intelligent people simply don’t struggle with.

Deep Focus

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Finally, it probably won’t surprise you that intelligent people have a knack for becoming deeply focused on a particular task, especially if it stimulates them to a high enough level. This hyper-focus allows them to produce increased levels of productivity when required, enabling them to achieve the high-level results they’re famous for.