7 ways to appear more intelligent

Jessica Brown@Jessica_E_Brown
Tuesday 15 November 2016 11:30
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(Shutterstock / Catherine Murray)

Being blessed with the smart gene means you're more likely to glide through school with good grades, get into your first choice of university, and stand a better chance at getting your dream job.

What's not to like?

But for those of us who were more likely to spend breaktimes in detention scraping chewing gum off tables than achieve an A in maths, here are a few shortcuts to being clever.

You know what they say; fake it 'till you make it.

1. Go to bed later

Forget what your parents told you when you were in school – going to bed earlier might not actually make you smarter.

This is according to a study in 2009, which found that people who are more intelligent are also more likely to be nocturnal.

Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perina analysed the sleep habits of 20,745 Americans and found that those with lower intelligence went to bed at 11:41pm on average, compared to the “very bright,” who went to bed at 12:29pm.

2. Be modest

If you think you’re clever, the chances are you aren’t. A study in 1999 found that those who scored low in tests on grammar, logic and humour massively overestimated their intelligence and ability.

This is because those with lower intelligence don’t have the ability to realise their shortcomings, according to the researchers.

This phenomenon has been termed the Dunning-Kruger effect, after the study’s authors.

It appears the best way to appear intelligent is actually to believe you're not. Keep up.

3. Keep eye contact

Put those sunglasses away and look up from your phone, because those who look at people when speaking to them come across as more intelligent.

Nora A. Murphy, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles found that participants watching taped interviews believed those who gave more eye contact were smarter than their easily distracted peers.

4. Use your middle name

Speaking of Nora A. Murphy, researchers have found that people who include a middle initial in their name appear smarter.

This, they say, is because middle name initials often appear in formal contexts.

5. Don’t use big words

A study aptly called Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly (who said scientists can’t be funny?) found that using big words won’t get you anywhere.

Researchers looked at a number of different forms of writing, including personal statements and essays, and found that being complex for no real reason actually makes you go down in the reader’s estimation, and you come across as less intelligent.

6. Stick to soft drinks

Bad news. Holding an alcoholic drink makes you look less intelligent, according to a study in 2013 in the US.

Researchers call it the:

imbibing idiot bias.

They found that job candidates who ordered wine during an interview over dinner were viewed as less intelligent and less hireable.

That’s wine – the most sophisticated of all drinks. You won't stand a chance with a Jager Bomb.

But the association between alcohol and intelligence wasn’t for the reasons you might think. It isn’t because we think less intelligent people are more likely to drink, but because our association is so strong between drinking and cognitive impairment.

7. Dress smartly

Dressing smartly will increase how intelligent you appear for two reasons. There's the fact that wearing formal clothes makes you appear smarter to others, but also, how we feel when wearing clothes can affect how well we do a job.

Researchers in the US found that wearing a lab coat is associated with being more attentive and careful, and confirmed that it actually did increase people’s attention when they were carrying out their work.

They also found people did better on tasks when wearing a lab coat that was described as a doctor’s coat compared to a painter’s coat.

More: Eleven signs you are smarter than average

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