We all know of the conventional ways to test intelligence: IQ tests, good grades, landing a role as Sherlock Holmes.
But did you know there are other weird, yet scientifically tested, signs that indicate your intellect?
Here are some the out-of-the-box ones (how many do you meet?):
You’re the Eldest
Being the oldest child tends to bring responsibility, and added brains to handle it too.
Norwegian epidemiologists studied the records of nearly 250,000 men aged 18 to 19 and found that – on average – the firstborn child had an IQ of 103, the second-born child had an IQ of 100 and the third-born child averaged 99, due to the different psychological interactions they had with their parents. This mental edge along with other factors, mean that the firstborn tend to achieve slightly more success. On the other hand, younger siblings are more likely to take risks and break norms in creative ways, meaning the quest for sibling supremacy is far from settled.
You’re Really Hairy (For Guys Only)
Dr Aikarakudy Alias’ theory sounds as unlikely as his name, but according to the doctor, hairy chests are significantly more common among doctors and the highly educated. Hard to argue with a guy who’s poured 22 years into understanding something that many of us wince at. For instance, his study of medical students in America found 45% of male trainee doctors were “very hairy”, compared to only 10% of men in the general population. Likewise a study in the Indian state of Kerala found that engineering and medical students had more body hair on average than manual workers, and a third survey of 117 members of Mensa found a propensity towards hairiness, with the brainiest of the folk seeming to be those that sported hair on their backs as well as their chests. Of course, this doesn’t imply non-hairy folks can’t be brilliant – as Dr Alias observed: “Albert Einstein had no body hair”.
How many psychology students does it take to run an experiment? 400 apparently. At the University of New Mexico, these students were first scored according to their abstract reasoning and verbal intelligence and then asked to compose funny captions for New Yorker cartoons. The captions rated as funnier came from students who also scored higher in the cognitive tests. Add the fact that verbal intelligence generally follows overall intelligence and you can see how smarts goes down to the funny bone.
You Don’t think You’re Smart
In 1995, McArthur Wheeler robbed two banks in broad daylight without a mask, because he thought rubbing invisible ink (lemon juice) over his face could hide his identity. Called the Dunning-Kruger effect, this mental bias tends to occur among those with low ability who significantly overestimate themselves because they don’t realise that’s what they’re doing. It also works in reverse: those with high ability tend to make the false assumption that their peers are performing just as well as them, even when they aren’t. So if you don’t think you’re smarter than your friends, you’re humble – and possibly under that special illusion that affects smart people.
Just as intelligence is far more than IQ (there’s EQ, CQ and SQ too), inner smarts can be hinted at by your humour, hair and humility (not exactly academic measures), making the study of intelligence a great deal more interesting.
By Vincent Tan