You have a messy desk
Intelligence is difficult to define – psychologists have been arguing about it for years. According to professor Robert J. Sternberg, intelligence is the ability “to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment.” You’d think someone who was intelligent would be organised and have everything in their workspace arranged neatly but that’s not the case. In an experiment from the University of Minnesota, people in a messy setting came up with more creative ideas than those in a neat space. “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,” says study Dr Kathleen Vohs. “Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.” Creativity is one of the traits that smarter people tend to possess – and so conversely, it may actually lead to messiness, adds research scientist, Dr Jonathan Wai. “I’d guess that it’s not messiness that helps creativity, but creativity which may create messiness,” he says. “Such people tend to get lost in thought focusing on a problem or issue, and cleanliness becomes of less importance than focusing on the problem at hand.”
You stay up late
In movies, the creative genius always works late into the wee hours of the night by candlelight – and perhaps this stereotype is rooted in fact. A study from the London School of Economics and Political Science found that people who tend to go to bed later have higher IQs. The study authors believe the root of why this is lies in our evolution – because night-time was a more dangerous place, our ancestors who ventured into it instead of going to sleep needed to be more intelligent. Also, staying awake into the night was a new idea that was attractive to curious minds. Today, our varying circadian rhythms still may reflect this. “Perhaps [some smart people] stay up later because their internal clocks are simply different,” Dr Wai says. “Or, perhaps they stay up later because they tend to be introverted, and like being up late at night without distractions to think and solve problems.” But if you are a night owl, remember to still get your seven to nine hours of sleep.
It’s commonly thought that swearing is a reflection of low education and intelligence – the theory that when people can’t think of the right adjective, they resort to slang, including curses. But a study by renowned expert in cursing Dr Timothy Jay, and colleagues found that people who could come up with more curse words had a larger vocabulary in general. “Taboo or ‘swear word’ fluency is positively correlated with overall verbal fluency,” Dr Jay told Medical Daily. “The more words you generated in one category meant the more words you generated in another category, orally and verbally.” Linguistic ability is one of the traits of people with higher intelligence possess, according to Dr Wai, so it shouldn’t be surprising that smart people know more curses – even if they don’t use them all the time. “It’s part of your emotional intelligence to know how and when to use these words,” Dr Jay says.