Seeming Smart- It’s an Art


Daevan Mangalmurti, Writer

Albert Einstein. Leonardo da Vinci. Isaac Newton. William Shakespeare. Figures whose names resound throughout history. These are the people who likely first come to mind at the mention of the word “genius.” And while it might be nearly impossible to reach the heights these people did, it’s not nearly as hard to make yourself seem a little smarter to those around you. So without further ado, here are science’s tips for being brilliant.

How to Look

There are a few simple things you can do to make yourself seem more intelligent. According to science, more attractive people are also thought to be smarter because of the “halo effect,” which is when one positive feature of a person makes us think their other attributes are also positive. But being attractive isn’t something within our control, so let’s concentrate on what is. One of the most important things people can do is wearing glasses. Human brains seem to think that people who wear glasses are smarter than those who don’t- especially when those glasses are thick-rimmed.

Our minds also think people are smarter when they dress a certain way. In one study conducted by the University of Wisconsin, researchers found that participants perceived a person who was well-dressed and covering most of their skin as more intelligent than a person that was wearing clothes that left most of their body uncovered- even if it was the same person on both occasions! It has also been shown that our minds find people who have facial jewelry to be less intelligent than people who do not have facial jewelry. Lastly, a study conducted by researchers at Charles University in Czechia found that “There … seems to be a correlation between semblances of emotions of joy or anger in perceptions of high or low intelligence in faces, respectively. The “high intelligence” faces appear to be smiling more than the “low intelligence” faces.” In short: smile more.

How to Behave

Besides looking the part, acting a certain way also makes you seem smart. It is important to look and feel confident. As humans, we’re often persuaded by cases that seem to be presented with confidence, no matter how accurate they may be. Even better, people who are confident in themselves do better on tests, again no matter how smart they actually are.

So remember that next time you’re nervous about that math test tomorrow. People also find other people to be more intelligent when they have good posture but are also relaxed. It’s also good to be modest about being smart. The intelligence researcher C.L. Downing was the first to propose this idea: the smarter people are, the more they underestimate their intelligence because they realize how much they do not know. Finally, people think others are smarter when they look them in the eye, are enthusiastic about the subject of conversation, and are funny overall. So if you look someone in the eye while you’re cracking a joke, you’ve probably convinced them that you’re towards the brighter end of the spectrum.

What to Do

Actions speak louder than words- or in this case, louder than thick-rimmed glasses. Scientists recommend that if a person is trying to seem more intelligent to the people around them, they should speak clearly at a moderate pace, write simply, work and walk at the same rate as the people around them, and think about everything critically. There are a few other habits that are important to get used to. A study from 2009 discovered that those who sleep later and wake up later are smarter than people who sleep earlier and get up earlier. Being expressive and responsive is also thought highly of by people- monotones make you seem less intelligent. Probably because of their association with aristocracy and superiority, middle initials also make people seem more intelligent. And if none of these things work, there’s always one last thing you can do- find yourself some smart friends.