What does it mean to be smart?
Bright, clever, witty and knowledgeable are just some ways people define smartness. Some might even throw the word genius into the mix. Doctors have their own definitions, too. A genius is traditionally someone with extreme intellectual skill with high IQ test scores, says Judy Ho, PhD, a triple board-certified clinical, forensic and neuropsychologist, and author of Stop Self Sabotage. Although, she says these tests don’t always offer the full-picture because some genius skills, like creative problem-solving, are harder to measure.
Defining smartness, as well as genius, might not be clear-cut, but overall, most people agree that smart people have a high level of thinking. You might be one of them if these things apply to you.
You’re the oldest child
A study published in the Journal of Human Resources suggests that firstborns might have a “mental edge” over their younger siblings as they tend to have higher IQs. According to researchers, this is because parents often offer older kids more mental stimulation, they breastfeed, and they take fewer risks like drinking and smoking during the first pregnancy. So smart older children aren’t necessarily a result of genetics.
You have anxiety
Research in the journal Intelligence suggests that geniuses, or people with higher IQs, report more mood and anxiety disorder diagnoses than the national average. Dr Ho says this could be because geniuses often overthink everything since they try to achieve perfection. This level of high self-reflection, plus a more neurotic personality, links to a higher risk for anxiety and other mental health distress, according to Dr Ho.
Anyone who is a bit different is also susceptible to suffering from social challenges, according to Catherine Franssen, PhD, a professor of psychology and director of neurostudies at Longwood University. “That includes those who are different because of something that seems like a positive trait, like a genius,” Dr Franssen says.