The Writing Style That Makes You Appear Smarter

The type of writing that makes you look smarter. 

The type of writing that makes you look smarter.

Writing in a simple and straightforward way makes you look smarter, research finds.

When readers find it easy to understand something, they assume the writer is more intelligent.

On the other hand, using long words in a clumsy way makes people look less intelligent.

Oddly enough, the use of complicated or unusual fonts also makes people looks less intelligent.

It is far better to stick to normal fonts like Times New Roman or Arial and everyday words that everyone can understand.

Of course, sometimes long words are necessary, such as in technical documents.

Professor Daniel Oppenheimer, the study’s author, explained:

“It’s important to point out that this research is not about problems with using long words but about using long words needlessly.

Anything that makes a text hard to read and understand, such as unnecessarily long words or complicated fonts, will lower readers’ evaluations of the text and its author.”

Professor Oppenheimer carried out five studies to reach his conclusions.

People were asked to read and judge various writing samples, including graduate school applications, research abstracts and a translation of the philosopher Descartes.

Readers consistently rated the writers of simpler language as more intelligent.

Professor Oppenheimer said:

“The continuing popularity amongst students of using big words and attractive font styles may be due to the fact that they may not realise these techniques could backfire.

One thing seems certain: write as simply and plainly as possible and it’s more likely you’ll be thought of as intelligent.”

Naturally, the study’s title is: “Consequences of erudite vernacular utilized irrespective of necessity: problems with using long words needlessly”.

The study was published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology (Oppenheimer, 2005).

4 Personality Traits That Are Signs Of High IQ (M)

The research revealed the facets of the major personality traits that are signs of high intelligence.

The research revealed the facets of the major personality traits that are signs of high intelligence.

People who are active and energetic tend to have enhanced information processing abilities, memory and general knowledge, research finds.

Whatever the subject, then, active people tend to know more about it.

Being active is a facet of the major personality factor of extraversion, in other words it is a sub-component, along with warmth, gregariousness, assertiveness, excitement seeking and positive emotions.

This is one of the highlights of a survey of over 1,000 studies on the connections between personality and cognitive abilities.

Over 2 million people studied across the last century were included in the huge review of research.

Dr Kevin Stanek, the study’s first author, said:

“It took over 13 years and a team of over 30 volunteers to seek out, translate, enter and analyze the over 1,300 studies.”

Open to experience

The results confirmed that the major factor of openness to experience was positively linked to many cognitive abilities.

In fact, openness to experience is the major personality trait most strongly linked to high IQ.

Being open to experience means taking an interest in things that are new, complex and even unconventional.

People high in this trait are often drawn to novel and complex ideas, and are willing to consider different perspectives.

High IQ may have a particularly strong link to curiosity because intelligence creates a ‘cognitive hunger’.

Conscientious and agreeable

The researchers also found that being an industrious and compassionate person was positively linked to most cognitive abilities.

Industriousness is a facet of conscientiousness and compassion is a facet of agreeableness.

Perhaps agreeableness has the most surprising connection with high IQ.

Many people fail to appreciate that being agreeable is linked to being smart.

In fact, though, highly intelligent people are more likely to be trusting, straightforward and altruistic.

Professor Deniz Ones, study co-author, said:

“Knowing how personality and intelligence are related allows us to ponder the much deeper question of why.

These findings revolutionize our understanding of human diversity and individuality.

Only by knowing ourselves can we fully tap into our potential.”


Neuroticism, though, was consistently linked to lower cognitive abilities.

Neuroticism is a personality trait that is strongly linked to anxiety, sadness, irritability and self-consciousness.

Neurotic people tend to have poorer logical abilities and accumulate less knowledge.

However, the link could be down to the neurotic being nervous while taking tests, some psychologists think.

The other end of the spectrum from neuroticism — stable emotions — is consistently linked to higher IQ.

Emotional stability is linked to being better at dealing with stress and minor frustrations.

People who are emotionally stable usually find it easier to control their urges and are mostly unselfconscious.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Stanek et al., 2023).

4 Fascinating Signs Of High IQ

Four personality factors are linked to high intelligence.

Four personality factors are linked to high intelligence.

People with higher intelligence find it easier to accept confusion and vagueness, a study finds.

Many problems in life do not have a definitive answer — and intelligent people can deal with this more easily.

More intelligent people can make better decisions because they are able to accept ambiguity, researchers have found.

Other common signs of a high IQ include being conscientious, taking risks and being curious.

People who are conscientious are more careful, efficient and self-disciplined — and they aim for achievement.

Intelligent people are more likely to have ‘Type A’ personalities — this is linked both to being competitive and taking risks.

Curiosity is also linked to high intelligence.

People who are curious ask lots of questions, look for surprises, seek out sensations and make time to search out new ideas.

The conclusions come from a study that included 820 people.

All completed measures of both intelligence and personality.

The personality traits are part of the High Potential Traits Inventory, which focuses on workplace behaviours.

The results showed that four personality factors were linked to intelligence.

The ability to cope with uncertainty is an especially strong sign of high intelligence, the authors write:

“This study found that multiple intelligence measures were predictive of higher tolerance of uncertainty.

Previous researchers have found that more intelligent
individuals are able to adequately adapt to and evaluate
changing work tasks, leading to greater accuracy in decision-making.”

People who are curious also had higher IQs the study found:

“Curiosity – marked by high openness, creativity, imagination, and cognitive complexity – was hypothesised to associate with higher levels of intelligence.

individuals high on curiosity exhibited higher levels of WM [working memory] ability.”

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Furnham & Treglown, 2018).

This Major Personality Trait Indicates High IQ

People with this personality type have higher crystallised intelligence.

People with this personality type have higher crystallised intelligence.

Being open to experience is a sign of high intelligence, research reveals.

People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.

They are sensitive to their feelings, intellectually curious and seekers of variety.

Curiosity and an appreciation of beauty are particularly strong signs of crystallised intelligence, the study found.

Crystallised intelligence roughly equates to general knowledge: knowing many things about the world.

It is natural that people who are curious and interested in new things tend to pick up more general information.

The conclusions come from a study of around 500 people who were given tests of intelligence and personality.

Openness to experience is one of the five major aspects of personality.

Openness also has a number of facets of its own, the study authors explain:

“The Openness to Experience construct involves the tendency to fantasize (Fantasy), aesthetic sensitivity (Aesthetics), awareness of one’s emotions (Feelings), preference for novelty (Actions), intellectual curiosity (Ideas), and preference for non-traditional values (Values).”

The results revealed that more intelligent people were particularly appreciative of beauty: they had a strong aesthetic sense.

They were also likely to be intellectually curious and to have an interest in ideas for their own sake.

These two facets of openness were most strongly linked to higher crystallised intelligence.

The study was published in the Journal of Research in Personality (Ashton et al., 2000).

A Surprising Sign Of A High IQ Brain (M)

High IQ brains have greater functional connectivity and higher synchronisation, but this has an unexpected real-world effect.

High IQ brains have greater functional connectivity and higher synchronisation, but this has an unexpected real-world effect.

Intelligent people take longer to solve difficult problems than those with lower IQs, a study finds.

The reason seems to be that people with higher IQs avoid jumping to conclusions, which means they are more likely to end up with the correct answer.

On simpler problems, though, people with high IQs do indeed answer more quickly.

Greater functional connectivity

The conclusions come from a study of 650 people who were given a series of logical problems to solve, which became steadily harder.

From a combination of brain scans and simulations of brain activity, the researchers found that the brains of smarter people took longer to solve difficult problems.

High IQ brains have greater functional connectivity and higher synchronisation.

It is these properties that allow the more intelligent brain to ‘hold out’ while complex information is being processed.

Dr Michael Schirner, the study’s first author, said:

“Synchronization, i.e., the formation of functional networks in the brain, alters the properties of working memory and thus the ability to ‘endure’ prolonged periods without a decision.

In more challenging tasks, you have to store previous progress in working memory while you explore other solution paths and then integrate these into each other.

This gathering of evidence for a particular solution may sometimes takes longer, but it also leads to better results.

We were able to use the model to show how excitation-inhibition balance at the global level of the whole brain network affects decision-making and working memory at the more granular level of individual neural groups.”

Brain simulations

To reach their conclusions, the researchers used simulations of brain activity, personalised for each of the 650 people in the study.

Professor Petra Ritter, study co-author, explained:

“We can reproduce the activity of individual brains very efficiently.

We found out in the process that these in silico brains behave differently from one another—and in the same way as their biological counterparts. Our virtual avatars match the intellectual performance and reaction times of their biological analogues.”

The simulations revealed that the brains of people with lower IQs cannot wait until all the various areas of the brain have finished their processing steps before ‘jumping to conclusions’.

In contrast, greater synchrony in high IQ brains allowed time for all the brain regions to complete their processing and deliver up an answer that was more likely to be correct.


The study was published in the journal Nature Communications (Shirner et al., 2023).

Drinking This Popular Beverage Is A Sign of High IQ

The common drink is linked to a higher level of education.

The common drink is linked to a higher level of education.

Smarter people are more likely to drink alcohol daily, research finds.

Better educated people are also more likely to have a drinking problem.

Higher grades in school at the age of just 5-years-old predict greater intake of alcohol many decades later.

Among women, there is an especially strong link between alcohol consumption and being highly educated.

The reason may be that middle-class lifestyles — accessible through education — are linked to more alcohol consumption.

It could also be because intelligent people often value novel things and are at a greater risk of getting bored.

The study’s authors write:

“The more educated women are, the more likely they are to drink alcohol on most days and to report having problems due to their drinking patterns

The better-educated appear to be the ones who engage the most in problematic patterns of alcohol consumption.”

The results come from a study that followed everyone born in the UK in one week in 1970.

Women with degrees were 86% more likely to drink on most days than those with less education, the study found.

Highly-educated women were 1.7 times more likely to have a drinking problem than the less well-educated.

The authors write:

“Both males and females who achieved high-level performance in test scores administered at ages five and 10 are significantly more likely to abuse alcohol than individuals who performed poorly on those tests.”

The link between alcohol consumption and education could come down to a range of factors, the authors write:

“Reasons for the positive association of education and drinking behaviours may include: a more intensive social life that encourages alcohol intake; a greater engagement into traditionally male spheres of life, a greater social acceptability of alcohol use and abuse; more exposure to alcohol use during formative years; and greater postponement of childbearing and its responsibilities among the better educated.”

The study was published in the journal Social Science and Medicine (Huerta & Borgonovi, 2010).

4 Wonderful Signs You Have A High IQ

Four things that indicate high intelligence in a person.

Four things that indicate high intelligence in a person.

Being open to experience, cooperative, happy and having strong perceptual skills are all signs that you have a high IQ, psychological research finds.

Of these, being open to experience is a particularly strong sign…

1. Open to experience

Insatiable curiosity, an active fantasy life, a sensitivity to emotions and an appreciation of art and beauty are all linked to high IQ.

These are all aspects of the major personality trait called ‘openness to experience’.

People who are open to experience are more interested in things that are complex, new and unconventional.

Being open to experience is so powerful that it is linked to intelligence when measured almost 40 years later.

Children who scored higher on IQ tests at just 11-years-old were more open to experience when they were 50-years-old, the psychologists found.

2. Cooperative

Intelligent people are better at cooperating with others.

While personality traits like being generous and conscientious have an effect on cooperation, higher IQ is the main factor that encourages people to work well together.

People with higher intelligence use more consistent strategies and consider the consequences of their actions.

That is why people with high IQs are so essential: without them society would not work.

3. Happy

Happy people have higher intelligence.

The finding goes against the popular idea that being intelligent somehow predisposes people to unhappiness.

The study looked at happiness in the best-known sense of feeling positive emotions and being satisfied with your life.

The results showed that people with the lowest IQ (70 – 99) were the least happy in comparison to those with the highest IQs (120 – 129).

4. Stronger perceptual skills

People with high IQs have stronger basic perceptual skills, research finds.

For example, they can tell which way objects are moving more quickly.

They are also better at blocking out background information to make their judgement.

Imagine a ball thrown at high speed — a more intelligent person can pick up its trajectory faster.

A higher IQ makes the brain faster at a fundamental level.

It helps underline that high IQ is about more than just solving puzzles or making the ‘right’ decision.


The Personality Trait Associated With Low IQ Scores

One trait is linked to a worse score in intelligence tests.

One trait is linked to a worse score in intelligence tests.

People with unstable emotions tend to get lower scores on IQ tests, studies find.

This may, though, be down to nervousness while taking the test.

In fact, people who are neurotic may have higher IQs than the standard test reveals.

Neuroticism, one of the five major personality traits, encompasses unstable emotions, anxiety, self-consciousness and irritability.

People who are higher in neuroticism may also sleep poorly, the study’s authors explain:

“High scorers tend to be sensitive, emotional, worrying, moody, frequently depressed, often sleep badly and may suffer from various psychosomatic disorders.

Low scorers tend to be secure, hardy and generally relaxed even under stressful conditions.”

The conclusions come from two studies, the first of which was conducted on 646 Dutch twins.

The results showed that people higher in neuroticism got lower scores on an IQ test.

The link is down to genetics, the researchers concluded.

However, a second study gave IQ tests to 213 people and split them into two groups depending on how anxious they were.

The results of this study showed that the more nervous people were, the lower their IQ scores.

By statistically removing the effects of anxiety, though, the researchers were able to show that highly neurotic people are just as intelligent.

The authors conclude:

“Neurotics become more anxious under testing conditions, and this anxiety affects their performance on the IQ tests.

It is therefore proposed that Neuroticism is not related to intelligence per se, but to intelligence test performance, which has been proposed in the past (Eysenck, 1971).

This suggestion implies that IQ tests may underestimate the true intelligence of Neurotic individuals.”

The studies were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Bartels et al., 2012Moutafi et al., 2006).

This Fun Personality Trait Indicates High IQ

People with high intelligence tend to have this quality.

People with high intelligence tend to have this quality.

Extravert get higher scores on IQ tests, a study finds.

People who are outgoing, talkative and energetic perform better on tests of verbal and abstract reasoning, psychologists found.

Extraverts are generally self-confident and cheerful and can also be impulsive, sensation-seekers.

The conclusions come from a study that tested the effects of background music on how people perform on IQ tests.

The study also revealed that extraverts are better at dealing with noisy conditions when carrying out intellectual tasks.

Introverts find background noise and music much more distracting.

For the study, 118 people took IQ tests, sometimes in silence and other times with background noise.

The background noise was either music or simulated office noise.

The results showed that extraverts got higher scores on the IQ tests, whether it was noisy or not.

However, everyone tended to perform better on the test in silence.

So, background noise generally made everyone’s performance worse.

The worst type of noise for performance was the simulated office noise.

Still, extraverts coped much better on the tests in noisy conditions than introverts.

The study’s authors write:

“This study found a positive correlation between extraversion and IQ, suggesting the relationship between intelligence and extraversion may be a bit more complex than it appears at first sight.


…extraversion and introversion are intimately associated with different intellectual styles and intelligence profiles.


Introverts were found to perform relatively better on verbal tests, and extraverts on performance tests.”

The study was published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology (Dobbs et al., 2011).

The Rebellious Sign of Higher IQ

People with higher intelligence tend to share this characteristic.

People with higher intelligence tend to share this characteristic.

People with higher intelligence are more likely to be original, offbeat and rebellious, research finds.

More intelligent people have a distinct, individual style and avoid following the crowd.

Non-conformists may be more intelligent because they are less afraid to break society’s conventions.

Being a non-conformist comes with its own dangers, though, the study’s authors write:

“Non-conformist behavior may threaten the belongingness to a social group, or has the potential of enlarging the psychological distance from others.

People who deviate from the group are more likely to be punished, ridiculed, or even rejected by other group members.

…acting in a non-conformist way is less threatening for highly than for less intelligent people.”

The conclusions come from a small study that asked 46 people about their ‘need for uniqueness’ and tested their intelligence.

They were asked whether they agreed with statements like:

  • “I do not always need to live by the rules and standards of society.”
  • “I tend to express my opinions publicly, regardless of what others say.”
  • “When a style of clothing I own becomes too commonplace, I usually quit wearing it.”

The results showed that people with higher IQs were more likely to endorse statements indicating a preference for uniqueness.

More intelligent people may be more resourceful, which explains their independence, the study’s authors write:

“…the more intelligent someone is, the less dependent this person is on the group to acquire resources.

This means that highly intelligent people can afford more non-conformist behavior because of their capacity to secure resources in isolation.

…as general intelligence increases the need to conform to group norms decreases.”

The study was published in the BMJ (Millet, 2007).