You will be surprised to learn that some of the people you know that appear to be smart may actually not be as bright as they seem.

Intelligence is an important marker in our society. We use people’s behaviors to gauge how intelligent they are in comparison to ourselves and others. As we get older, intelligence is revered and we tend to listen more to those we deem more intelligent than ourselves.

However, there are a number of ways that people can just pretend to be smart as a way of getting more attention from others and to make their opinion heard.

To help you differentiate between the truly intelligent and the pretenders, we have collated five of the main behaviors that people use to make us believe they are smart.

1. Wearing glasses

One of the most common ways people make themselves look smarter is by wearing a pair of glasses. Well, this is probably something you have already heard of. Even psychologists agree that those with glasses look much more intelligent, and even that they look more qualified for jobs. But why do they make us look smart?

Glasses are a tool that we use to correct our eyesight. They are especially important for those who read literature and focus on writing for long periods of time.

Glasses lead us to believe that your eyesight more frequently than other people and that you use a higher level of focus for longer periods of time. All of this together makes people believe that you have a higher level of intelligence than the average worker.

Nowadays, even if you don’t need glasses, you can easily pick up a pair with a set of false lenses, creating the illusion of intelligence. So watch out for fake glasses, the wearer may not be as smart as they want you to believe.

2. Bragging about test results

A great way to make people think you’re smart? Tell them that you are. Bragging about test results can be a great way of making others congratulate you for your achievement and make them believe you are smarter than you really are. Watch out for people that tell you how well they’ve done.

Pride is no bad thing, but bragging is entirely different. Bragging is intentionally telling someone how clever you are because if the grades you achieve, rather than simply feeling pride that you have done well.

Only bragging about occasional good grades can be another tell-tale sign that things aren’t as they seem. Most people with a high level of intelligence will achieve consistently high grades, and most likely won’t feel the need to brag unless they were particularly invested.

If they constantly use the same example to tell you how clever they are, this person probably just pretends to be smart.

3. Adopting ‘nerdy’ habits and interests

Intelligent people tend to draw entertainment from more sophisticated interests, such as classical music and advanced literature. People who want you to believe they are intelligent have a bad having of appropriating these habits unto themselves to look sophisticated and intelligent.

It’s one thing to adopt these interests, but people who are pretending to be smart may not fully know what they are talking about.

Now, we’re not saying grill them on all of their classical music knowledge, but look out for signs that they are going straight for the well-known artists and writers. Someone who is really interested in these activities is more likely to find some abstract artists and know a lot about what they enjoy.

4. Complaining about unintelligent people

With intelligence comes courtesy. Just because someone is not as intelligent as you does not make you any better than them, nor does it make them any worse than you.

Genuinely smart people know and are gracious about the fact that others may not fully grasp some concepts that they do. People who are pretending to be smart… not so much.

Picking up and complaining about the trivial mistakes or the stupidity of others is an indicative sign that someone is insecure about their own intelligence. Putting others down makes them feel better about themselves and feel like others see them as a higher intelligence than they truly are.

Don’t be fooled by someone correcting trivial mistakes. The likelihood is that they are self-conscious of their own intelligence and are simply pretending to be smarter than they really are.

5. Using unnecessarily long words

Long words are the epitome of intelligence. Being able to use long words means that you have an extended vocabulary, which comes from reading and writing. Most people, even intelligent ones, won’t feel the need to use advanced vocabulary in casual or friendly conversations.

People who are pretending to be smart have a tendency to throw in long words where they’re not needed. This can be occasional or it can be excessive. Watch out for unneeded long words, they may seem intelligent, but it may just be a ploy.

Intelligence is always a coveted trait, so there can be a lot of reasons to pretend you are smarter than you are. Increasing your perceived intelligence can be a great help in job interviews and formal situations.

But if someone is constantly pretending, they can be tiring to be around. Hopefully, now you can tell true intelligence from pretense.

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This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Suleman Narsindhani

    You become what you pretend to be. In general, we all have that tendency to pretend for in our fresh years for what we aspire or to be known or regarded as. We must read the underlying intentions of the person if pretending to refute any harm or deceit.

    1. Duke Skystalker

      Uh, no. That doesn’t apply to intelligence. The only way to increase that trait is by deepening your depth of thought. Simply pretending to be intelligent will just make you better at pretending to be intelligent.

  2. Duke Skystalker

    Some of these seem kind of convoluted.

    I’m pretty sure that people just associate glasses with intelligence because of the media’s portrayal of intelligent people almost always wearing glasses. If you ask most people why they believe that people who wear glasses are more intelligent, it’s extremely doubtful that they would give such a layered answer, considering that such type of thinking is characterized by a lack of depth of thought.

    That and using long words isn’t necessarily a sign of someone trying to sound intelligent. Society in general seems to favor small words, but displaying a complex diction could just be the way a particular person speaks. They may assume the listener is intelligent enough to understand what they mean through context clues or they may be more than willing to explain it. I took issue with this because people always nark me for using big words when in reality, I have a tendency to use less common words that are around the commonly acceptable 1-3 syllable attention span and self-evident in their use.

  3. Kishore Kannan

    Nice, thnks!

  4. smartypants

    This is very shallow! I fit all the above, but am also HIGHLY INTELLIGENT! Whoever wrote this is apparently very superficial and not too smart! LOL!

  5. You

    This article is pretty stupid itself.

    There are many very simple concepts of life that idiots are down right dumb to not understand.

    People complain about being broke and can’t afford healthy food or necessities of life, yet they have the money for things they do NOT need in life.

    People are broke and live paycheck to paycheck, but they can afford a $1000 smartphone?? This, is 100% idiotic. Those kind of people deserve to be called idiots. They live their whole life not being told they’re stupid, and they continue to F up their own life, and then they have children and raise them to be equally stupid. Thus, the cycle of idiots continues. People don’t sit and think about what they’re doing to their own life. They justify them needing an extremely expensive phone while they eat trash food…and then complain their health is going down hill. Hmm.

    Yet we all have to live around these dumbass people! We have to live with their stupidity.

    Damn right they deserve to be called dumb right to their faces. Maybe…just maybe.. they’ll learn to think. Better than not saying anything and contributing to this world stupidity problem!

    They’re the type of people that also should NOT have children. But we all know dumb people that has multiple children. Boom, stupidity cycle continues.

  6. Muhydin Rahman

    There is a self styled “genius” in Malaysia, one Stepan Nasution Chelly, who wants everyone to think he’s an accounts professor, but he’s not. Stepan drives a recycled Ferrari !

    1. L

      I have ASD and was reading fluently at 3. I have a tendency to use a lot of words that most people seem to struggle with but are just normal words to me. I find myself “dumbing down” a lot which frustrates me.

  7. Danny C

    To all those stating that geniuses cannot be poor then ya better start editing our history books. As it stands now these people are viewed as certified geniuses:
    Nikola Tesla
    Vincent van Gogh
    Edgar Allen Poe
    Oscar Wilde
    Herman Melville
    Marie Curie
    Joseph Gandy
    Stephen Foster
    Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg
    And Antonio Meucci

    To name a few. They all died penniless.

    I don’t disagree that someone here is stupid, but I highly doubt you’re correct about it being history’s greatest minds.

    I’m guessing you have lots of money eh? We can consider that another point against your stance.

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