5 Odd Habits Highly Intelligent People Have

When you think of a highly intelligent person, what kind of habits come to mind? Usually, we think of a brainiac wearing glasses, reading books and studying. But did you know that there are other, lesser known habits they engage in?

Here are five odd habits highly intelligent people have.

1) They are night owls

What time are you most active? Research shows that night owls are more intelligent than those with regular sleep cycles. A 2009 study published in the journal of Personality and Individual Differences found that high childhood IQ was associated with nocturnal behavior in adulthood. The authors theorized that humans didn’t evolve for nocturnal activity, but highly intelligent people often choose to live life their own way, rather than sticking to the instincts and conventions of society. So instead of being active when everyone else is awake, they stay up late when they have no obligations or distractions, so they can pursue their goals more productively.

2) They are disorganized

How much structure do you impose on your life? You might think that plans, schedules and systems are a sign of intelligence, but research suggests it’s the other way around. Studies have found that the personality trait that has the strongest link with high intelligence is low conscientiousness. This means they have a preference for disorder and flexibility rather than organization and routine. Researchers think that highly intelligent people don’t need rules, plans and reminders to tell them the best thing to do in each situation, as they are smart enough to figure it out and manage themselves. Sometimes, order even gets in the way of highly intelligent people, as it restricts their freedom and originality.

3) They are loners

How much time do you spend alone? A study published in the British Journal of Psychology showed that highly intelligent people spend a  great deal of their time alone. They have many goals to pursue in order to make the most of their abilities and ambitions. This reduces the time they spend socializing, which takes up only a small part of their lives. However, on the plus side, they tend to be quite satisfied with this trade off. Working on long-term objectives gives them a form of happiness that nothing else can. Highly intelligent people are not only loners, they are happy with being loners.

4) They daydream

Woman daydreaming with thought bubble hot air balloon, illustration.

How much do you focus on the task at hand? You might think that highly intelligent people always have a strong focus so that they can accomplish their objectives. But a 2013 study published in Frontiers in Psychology suggests that mind wandering is actually another form of intelligent thinking. According to this theory, daydreaming should be seen as a positive and constructive mental technique, not a distraction. Highly intelligent people use daydreaming to plan for the future, explore creative solutions, cycle between different information streams and enhance learning of new information. Some researchers even suggest that the attention demanded by modern schools and workplaces is actually hurting our intelligence because it reduces our capacity for mental reflection and daydreaming.

5) They talk to themselves

What do you think when you see someone talking to themselves? I know, it looks crazy from the outside. But researchers think that this habit is actually a useful technique used by highly intelligent people. In a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, this habit was found to improve visual perception and understanding. Vocalizing about a topic allows the brain to retrieve information more efficiently, which helps to interpret the environment around you, find objects and explore ideas. So when you see someone talking to themselves, they’re not necessarily crazy. They might be a highly intelligent person using this technique to think of solutions and ideas much faster than everyone else.

So there you have it, five odd habits highly intelligent people have.

Do you relate to any of the habits mentioned in this article? Let us know in the comments below. And don’t forget to like and share this video if you think someone else will find it interesting. The studies and references used are listed in the description below. 


  • Chamorro‐Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2004). A possible model for understanding the personality‐intelligence interface. British Journal of Psychology, 95(2), 249-264.
  • Chamorro-Premuzic, T., & Furnham, A. (2014). Personality and Intellectual Competence. Psychology Press.
  • Kanazawa, S., & Perina, K. (2009). Why night owls are more intelligent. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(7), 685-690.
  • Li, N. P., & Kanazawa, S. (2016). Country roads, take me home… to my friends: How intelligence, population density, and friendship affect modern happiness. British Journal of Psychology, 107(4), 675-697.
  • Lupyan, G., & Swingley, D. (2012). Self-directed speech affects visual search performance. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(6), 1068-1085.
  • McMillan, R., Kaufman, S. B., & Singer, J. L. (2013). Ode to positive constructive daydreaming. Frontiers in psychology, 4, 626.

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