American business magazine Inc. published an article in 2015 chronicling, “23 of the Most Amazingly Successful Introverts in History” and some of their features might surprise you. Can you guess who?
Well, among the ranks of the world’s most successful introverts include: Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newtown, Eleanor Roosevelt, Larry Page, Warren Buffett, Charles Darwin, and Elon Musk. Notice anything else they might have in common? That’s right, many of these people are also regarded as some of the most brilliant minds in history!
So, if you’re an introvert wondering if you may be highly intelligent or gifted, too, then you’ve certainly come to the right place to know more. Just a quick disclaimer, though: being an introvert and being a genius aren’t mutually exclusive. And as of now, there is still no conclusive scientific evidence that they are. Nevertheless, here are a few psychology-backed signs that indicate a person might be both:
1. You don’t fit in a box.
In her self-help blog for the highly sensitive and gifted, “Eggshell Therapy and Coaching”, psychotherapist Imi Lo writes that highly intelligent people often feel they don’t fit in and are usually misunderstood and cast out by others. Similar to introverts, these people have a hard time fitting in because they’re not like everyone else. So if you’re both, you’re more likely to get strange looks from those around you but don’t bother too much about explaining yourself because you think they just wouldn’t get it. You don’t bother trying to fit in too much because you know that most people just don’t see the world the way you do or comprehend things on the level that you do.
2. You’re always exploring self potential.
In an article for Web MD, medically reviewed by Dr. Jennifer Casarella, common signs of genius, especially in children, include an intense need for mental stimulation and engagement, excitement about unique topics or interests, and an insatiable curiosity. So it should come as no surprise then that introverted geniuses are characterized by a strong motivation to learn new things and explore their own potential. Driven to constantly improve themselves, people like this often have a wide variety of interests, skills, and hobbies.
3. You’re careful about who you let in your life.
Similar to the earlier points, because they prefer solitude to socializing, highly intelligent introverts are careful about who they let into their life. They will only interact the most with like-minded people and keep a close-knit, carefully chosen circle of friends by their side. In fact, one study by psychologists Li and Kanazawa even found that highly intelligent people tend to be happier alone than when socializing with a group of friends, which explains why introverted geniuses are so selective about who they let into their lives.
4. You’re a highly observant person.
In an article for Psychology Today, bestselling self-help author Lynn Taylor states that being highly observant is one of the biggest strengths of being an introvert, and it’s a trait they share with many remarkable thinkers, too. “An introvert will tend o notice their environment and the people in it as they’re spending more time in the analytical zone,” she writes. “Introverts are also able to combine their imagination and observation skills to develop a sharp wit.” Furthermore, being highly observant also makes introverts better able to make connections and notice details other people often overlook.
5. But you tend to be a bit clueless, too.
Do people ever say things to you like, “You’re the dumbest smart person I know” or “It confuses me how someone so clever can be so clueless at the same time”? Well, if that’s the case, you can at least take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. In fact, Albert Einstein was notorious for not knowing something as simple as driving a car; and Dr. Matt Taylor, the lead astrophysicist behind the Rosetta space mission, has often been described by his own family as “lacking common sense.” Psychologist Dr. Michael Woodley theorizes that this could be because highly intelligent people have brains that aren’t writed to deal with unimportant details and menial tasks.
6. You have a rich inner world.
Psychologist Marti Olsen Laney, in her book “The Introvert Advantage,” writes that introverts have a longer neural pathway for processing stimuli, which is associated with better long-term memory, planning, and an improved ability to attend to one’s thoughts and feelings, even at the same time. So on a neurological level, introverts differ from extraverts in that they are more likely to have a rich and complex inner world filled with novel thoughts and ideas, much like highly intelligent individuals. Deep thinkers with boundless curiosity, they tend to spend a lot of time daydreaming or imagining different scenarios and possibilities.
7. You have a strong sense of self.
Last but certainly not the least, what distinguishes introverted geniuses from the rest is that they have a strong sense of self, which makes them less susceptible to external factors such as social norms and peer pressure. They are frequently seen as forward thinkers and trailblazers since they are more inclined to trust their own instincts and develop original solutions and ideas. To quote author Susan Cain, who penned “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” in an interview for The Scientific American, “Solitude is a crucial and underrated ingredient for creativity.”
So, do you relate to any of the things we’ve mentioned here? Do you think you might be an introverted genius?
Of course, these are just a few characteristics that introverts and geniuses have in common and isn’t necessarily definitive proof that someone is an introverted genius. It’s important to note that each person is different and intelligence can manifest in many different ways.
Let us know in the comments below what are some of the traits you think might make you an introverted genius. And until next time, don’t forget to like and subscribe to our channel. Thanks and see you in the next video, Psych2Goers!
- Lo, I. (2022). “Why Are Highly Intelligent People Misunderstood?” Eggshell Therapy and Coaching. Retrieved from https://eggshelltherapy.com/highly-rational/#Highly_Intelligent_People_Often_Feel_They_Dont_Fit_In
- Casarella, J. (2022). “What Are Signs of Genius?” Web MD. Retrieved from https://www.webmd.com/balance/what-are-signs-of-genius
- 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.
- Taylor, L. (2019). “Why You Should Embrace Your Inner Introvert.” Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/tame-your-terrible-office-tyrant/201910/why-you-should-embrace-your-inner-introvert
- Granneman, J. (2018). “Are You an Absent-Minded Introvert? Research Suggests You Might Be a Genius.” Introvert, Dear. Retrieved from https://introvertdear.com/news/absent-minded-introvert-genius/
- Laney, M. O. (2002). The introvert advantage: How quiet people can thrive in an extrovert world. Workman Publishing.
- Holmes, A. J., Lee, P. H., Hollinshead, M. O., Bakst, L., Roffman, J. L., Smoller, J. W., & Buckner, R. L. (2012). Individual differences in amygdala-medial prefrontal anatomy link negative affect, impaired social functioning, and polygenic depression risk. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(50), 18087-18100.
- Cook, G. (2012). “The Power of Introverts: A Manifesto for Quiet Brilliance.” The Scientific American. Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-power-of-introverts/