Maintaining eye contact while talking is one of the easiest ways to appear smarter, research finds.
Other common ways to appear smarter include speaking pleasantly, clearly and quickly.
The handy tip comes from a study in which people were recorded while trying to act smart discussing an assigned topic.
This condition was compared to people who were given no instruction about how to act.
Judges viewed the video and rated the person’s apparent intelligence.
Maintaining eye contact while speaking was rated as giving the smartest appearance.
Indeed, intelligence tests revealed that people who maintained eye contact were actually smarter.
Two other signs of high IQ were:
- maintaining eye contact while listening,
- and standing upright.
However, neither of these was linked to people’s measured intelligence.
Still, you could use them, as it creates the right impression.
Other ways to look more intelligent were:
- Speaking for longer.
- Having a self-assured expression.
- Being responsive.
People did not use these methods spontaneously, though.
The study’s authors conclude:
“Looking while speaking was a key behavior: It significantly correlated with IQ, was successfully manipulated by impression-managing targets, and contributed to higher perceived intelligence ratings.”
Along with more eye contact, other ways of appearing more intelligent are listed by the study’s authors:
“…pleasant speech style, clear or easy-to-understand communication, and faster speech rate all have been associated with higher perceived intelligence ratings.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Murphy, 2007).