6 Surprising Downsides to Being Extremely Intelligent

Some of us (many of us?) might wish on occasion that we were just a little bit smarter. A little quicker on the uptake, a little brighter – just enough so that we get all of the jokes, or don’t have to study quite so hard to ace the toughest exams.

You might be surprised, then, to learn that hundreds of people answered a Quora thread entitled “When does intelligence become a curse?“, and that some of the answers are kind of depressing.

Below are 6 that are not only super thought-provoking but, as it turns out, are backed by science.

#6. You’re expected to be a top performer.

In an excerpt from Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, the authors note that the parents who are often most anxious are the ones whose children are already doing well in school.

“Sometimes that can lead to too much focus on what they do rather than on who they are.”

Simply put, we’re in danger of churning out children who know how to take tests, but may avoid challenges that they fear they could fail, out of a worry about disappointing their parents and other adults in their lives.

#5. You annoy people when you correct them in casual conversation.

Image Credit: Life Hacker

Photo Credit: Life Hacker

It’s hard to keep your mouth shut when you know something said in a conversation is incorrect, even if you also know that doing so could make them not want to hang out with you anymore. It’s a struggle, and it’s real.

#4. You often think instead of feel.

Image Credit: Pure Wow

Photo Credit: Pure Wow

There is some interesting research out there that suggests high emotional intelligence compensates for low cognitive ability – meaning that people who are smart don’t rely on their emotional skills to solve problems. Quora user Marcus Geduld explains his real world experience with this as follows:

This is a common problem for smart people, especially ones who are highly verbal. They use words as a smoke screen, and it’s all the more effective when their words are true. Less articulate people tend to vent through physicality. They yell, punch, kick, run, scream, sob, dance, jump for joy…I explain. And when I’m done explaining, everything I’ve explained is still stuck inside me, only now it has a label on it.

#3. You understand everything you don’t understand.

Image Credit: Greg Denning

Photo Credit: Greg Denning

User Mike Farkas says that “intelligence is a curse when the more you know, the more you feel the less you know.”

Basically, super-smart people understand that it’s impossible to ever know everything. It’s backed up by a classic study that found the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your ability to gather knowledge – and that the opposite is also true.

#2. It can be difficult to understand the value of hard work.

Image Credit: News.com

Photo Credit: National Features

One study found a negative correlation between the desire to work hard and intelligence level. Put simply, people who are smart (and figure this out at a young age) often never have to work to succeed as much as their peers. This can lead to disappointment down the line, as they might be able to achieve more if they understood the benefits of putting in extra time and effort.

#1. You’re likely to overthink things.

Image Credit: Life Hacker

Photo Credit: Life Hacker

One of the more common complaints from the survey is all of the time spent analyzing things. The harder we think about the world around us, the people in it, and the future of both, the more depressing it can get. User Akash Ladha explains, “You realize…that nothing really means anything. You search for answers and it drives you crazy.”

Backing up this sentiment is a 2015 study that found that verbal intelligence is linked to excessive worry and rumination. It can also slow the decision-making process to a standstill.

h/t: IFLScience

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