10 Common Traits Of Highly Intelligent People

5 min read
Common Traits

We admire intelligent people. A lot of attention is devoted to people’s physical appearance, but intelligence is quite revered. Smart people tend to make the most money, and they seem to be able to handle the ups and downs of life more efficiently than everyone else. They do not have to tell you how smart they are or offer proof of their intelligence. Just spending a little time with them makes it obvious they have a high degree of intelligence. You don’t need to see a score on an IQ test.

But what makes a person more intelligent than another? Numerous studies have been done, and it has been found there are some characteristics most intelligent people have in common. Here are 10 traits you will find in most highly-intelligent people.

10. Adaptable


New environments and conditions will not greatly upset an intelligent person. They can adapt to the changes. They will be unhappy doing repetitive tasks and dealing with the people that fear and cannot handle change. They are able to change their behaviors and also influence the environment around them.

9. Night Owls

Night Owls

Every living thing has a “body clock” that generally sets waking and sleeping times. Humans are able to alter theirs, leading to some “morning people” and some “night people.” Those that stay up later and rise later tend to get less tired than the other group, which can result in increased brain activity and more intelligence. Before the advent of artificial light, most humans went to sleep when the sun went down and got up when it rose. Some theorize that highly-intelligent people evolved to alter their own sleep cycles, which helped them adapt to modern life.

8. Open-minded

Open Minded

The higher open-mindedness of intelligent people extends to people, new ideas, different ways of thinking, and alternative solutions to problems or issues. They value logic over loyalty. They are more likely to be open to differences around race and sexual identity. They don’t take things at face value or have views that are simply replicas of what their elders told them was right.

7. Always learning

Always Learning

Apple founder Steve Jobs was famous for his desire to keep learning. This is not necessarily about school and getting degrees, but about always seeking more knowledge to gain insight into the world around you and coming up with new ideas and solutions. Another aspect of learning is admitting that you don’t know something. If you don’t know something, there’s an opportunity to learn it. There is a theory known as the Kruger – Dunning Effect, which states that less intelligent people rate themselves higher than they should, while more intelligent people rate themselves lower than they should. This is in part due to the intelligent person always believing there is more to learn.

6. Curious


Albert Einstein is believed to have said, “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” These people want to explore things, and they love to read. Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates are particularly noted for reading everything they can possibly read. Curiosity can be developed over time, due to their accepting of the unknown and desire to ask questions and form new answers.

5. Comfortable alone

Comfortable Alone

This isn’t simply being an introvert, although many intelligent people are introverts. Being comfortable alone allows a person to do a lot of reading, take a long walk where they can unwind or think, and be OK with dining alone (a lot of people are highly uncomfortable doing this for fear of how it looks to others). These people derive less satisfaction from spending social time with friends than others. The love of reading from the curiosity mentioned above comes into play here.

4. Humble


Most of us know that person that loves to brag about being the best, when he or she is really quite average. This is not a trait of intelligent people; they are far more likely to doubt their abilities and are never in a hurry to proclaim their brilliance to the world. Highly intelligent people less likely to be overconfident in their interactions because they recognize their own limitations and how much there is to learn.

3. Oldest child

Oldest Child

There is a theory that the first child born in a family ends up being the most intelligent because they get more mental stimulation in the early stages of life, they get the most one-on-one time with their parents, and often learn responsibility earlier when they are tasked with watching their younger siblings.

2. Disorganized


You might assume these people are extremely organized. Often that is not the case. Perhaps the most famous example is Albert Einstein, who was obviously very brilliant but kept an extremely messy work area. The messy desk has been attributed to high levels of creativity, which leads the person to move quickly from one task to another without tidying up the previous task first. People who keep their space neat and tidy will often make safe choices, while the messy people will often come up with creative, innovative solutions.

1. Sense of humor

Sense Of Humor

There was a study where people were asked to rate how funny some captions to cartoons in the New Yorker were. The ones that the participants rated the highest were written by people who had scored high on IQ tests, indicating a good sense of humor is a characteristic of intelligent people. They also tend to favor dark or complicated humor over simple humor (such as knock-knock jokes). Here is an example of a joke with dark humor: “Here is the answering machine of the self-help association for Alzheimer patients. If you still remember your topic, please speak after the tone.” Professional comedians tend to score higher on intelligence tests as well.

There are a number of other traits you can find in intelligent people, of course. And every person is different – you won’t be able to make a single model and say, “this is what makes an intelligent person.” But when you consider the most intelligent people you know, and the ones that are known around the world for their intelligence, you can quickly see some of these common traits.