Highly intelligent introvert

Why Smart People Are Often Introverts & Love to Be Alone

  • Health

By Christina Stiehl

Published on 2/3/2017 at 12:01 AM

Evan Lockhart/Thrillist

It can sometimes feel isolating being an introvert; after all, sitting at home alone, although relaxing, can lead to a sense of FOMO and a feeling of social exclusion. 

Turns out, being an introvert has its own set of perks: stronger relationships, more energy, getting shit done. And since introverts must have their "me time," being smarter can be added to the list of positive introvert attributes. 

That's according to a somewhat counterintuitive aspect of the "savanna theory of happiness," an idea expanded upon in the British Journal of Psychology. The study found that people in more secluded areas (rural areas and small towns) were happier with their lives than those who lived in denser populations. If you've ever been on a crowded subway jammed under someone's armpit in the middle of summer, this theory makes sense.  

It also found that the more social interactions someone has with friends, the happier and overall more satisfied with their life they are... except for one major exception. Highly intelligent people were actually found to have the opposite correlation. As in, they experienced more happiness with fewer social interactions. When these brainiacs are forced to spend time with others, even if it's with friends, it doesn't bring them as much life satisfaction as it does to less-intelligent folks.

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Sure, our Paleo ancestors ate mostly plants, some meat, and other natural, unrefined foods, and did CrossFit. But how did they socialize? Looking into how the hunter-gatherers associated may hold the keys to understanding how people interact today -- and why smarter people may be better off alone.

The savanna theory follows logic that makes some sense: Our ancestors were used to traveling vast spaces in tight-knit groups, so modern humans in high-density areas, like cities, are generally less happy than their suburban and rural counterparts. Close social interaction, the theory continues, is another component of happiness; collaborating on how to bring down that wildebeest brought happiness to prehistoric humans because, hey, they got to eat!

"Spending time with friends is a very natural activity that was likely necessary for survival over millions of years," Dr. Norman Li, associate professor of psychology at Singapore Management University and co-author of the study, said in an email. 

Today those feel-good vibes around socialization persist, giving happy hour its signature adjective. Except, again, in super-smart people. But why? 

"High general intelligence might allow people to better handle new things that humans only recently are encountering, such as managing one's life using computers, smartphones, etc., and not needing (for survival purposes) to associate with friends on a daily basis," he posited. "So, it's more like high intelligence might allow people to more comfortably live outside of natural conditions. "

It's a question of adaptation, in other words; in a modern, technology-driven world that relies less on person-to-person contact, more intelligent people might find themselves better able to cope, and are therefore less happy when faced with their savanna-dwelling ancestors' habits. 

Don't worry, extroverts can still be smart, too

This isn't to say that social butterflies are always on the dumber end of the spectrum; as with most theories of intelligence and personality, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

"While our findings suggest that on average, less-intelligent people enjoy spending time with friends more than more intelligent people do, it doesn't mean that this applies to everyone or that the reverse has to be true, because many things could be leading people to enjoy their friends' company," Dr Li said. "So, enjoying spending time with friends does not necessarily mean that a person is less intelligent than someone who does not enjoy it!"

Don't go questioning your intelligence just yet if you actually prefer to be around other people. But if you're someone who genuinely enjoys alone time, and find yourself happiest when you're all by yourself, that doesn't mean you're a weirdo. In fact, it probably means you're way smarter than all the normals you're forced to interact with on a day-to-day basis.

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Christina Stiehl is a Health and fitness staff writer for Thrillist. She loves hanging out with herself (she's a great time). Follow her on Twitter @ChristinaStiehl.

Are Introverts Smarter Than Extroverts? (What Science Says)

Witty Companion Team

Introverts have been the subject of many misconceptions over time. One such misconception is that introverts are socially awkward or shy, and this assumption has led to a lot of people thinking they’re not very smart.

Likewise, an entirely different viewpoint is becoming increasingly popular — that introverts often have high IQ and are more intelligent than their outgoing counterparts!

So, are introverts smarter than extroverts?

Do introverts have a higher IQ?

In this article, we will take a deep dive into what science has to say about all of this and offer some of our own thoughts on the topic.

Let’s explore!

Introverts vs. Extroverts – What Difference Does It Make?

Before we look into whether introverts are more intelligent or not, we first need to understand what an introvert is.

An introvert is someone who prefers spending time alone or with a few close friends rather than large groups of people.

Introversion and extroversion are generally viewed as having different characteristics. Still, there is much debate over how right or wrong this is.

In 1921, psychologist Carl Jung proposed a theory that humans have both an extroverted side and an introverted side. He believed that each person’s personality falls somewhere on a spectrum between the two.

While many people can identify strongly with one end of the spectrum or the other, some people fall in the middle, demonstrating characteristics of both.

There are a few theories of why introversion and extroversion occur, but for the purposes of this article, we will look at the most popular few:

The Link Between Dopamine Levels & Extraversion

One theory suggests that our genetics cause us to behave in one way or another.

For example, people who have more dopamine (which research has linked with extroverted behavior) in their brains tend to lean more towards the extroverted side of things.

On the other hand, people who have lower levels of dopamine are more inclined to be introverted.

Brain Development – There May Be More To It

Another theory suggests that the development of our brains is what leads us to behave introvertedly or extrovertedly.

Apparently, the parts of our brain responsible for planning, problem-solving, and other important cognitive behavior are more active in introverts. This causes them to be more inclined towards spending time alone.

These brain parts are less active in extroverts, making them more likely to seek out social interactions.

As you can see, the findings of this study have begun to shed some light on our main questions about introverts and intelligence. So let’s get back to the main question.

Introversion and IQ – Are Introverts Smarter?

Here is the short answer:

No, introverts are not necessarily smarter than extroverts. While some studies link introversion and high intelligence, each person is unique, and broad generalizations are rarely possible and accurate.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the topic for those who want to know more.

First, we need to take two vital things into account when discussing this question:

  • There are various types of intelligence (eight, actually!), so it would be factually incorrect to boil people’s intelligence down to a single definition.
  • No two introverts nor extroverts are the same. Hence, it would also be wrong to assume anyone is intelligent based exclusively on the personality type they relate themselves to.

Many psychological studies have battled with the idea of finding different strengths and weaknesses of certain personality types.

A few of them have indeed proven that introverts are generally better at performing some tasks than extroverts. But naturally, the same can be said the other way around.

Here are a few interesting ones:

Study #1 – Introverts are better at problem-solving and planning.

A study conducted by psychologist Marti Olsen Laney found that introverts have higher activity levels in their prefrontal cortex.

The prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain responsible for tasks such as problem-solving and planning, which does not necessarily indicate they are more intelligent. Instead, on average, they are simply better at these specific tasks than extroverts.

Furthermore, many other studies show that there is no correlation between introversion and IQ. For example, research done by psychologist Alan S. Kaufman suggests that introversion has nothing to do with IQ.

Study #2 – Extroverts are better at short-term memory tasks.

The second study we decided to include was done by the Department of Psychological Science at the University of North Georgia. They proved that extroverts are generally more impulsive and hence perform tasks faster than introverts.

The main reason for this is the analytical nature of introverts. The same trait makes them better at planning and problem-solving in the long run; they just like to take their time.

However, the surprising result of the study was the finding that introverts made more errors in these short-term memory tasks than extroverts, even though they took more time.

We found this study particularly interesting because it sheds new light on the entire discussion.

Study #3 – Extroverts perform better in learning tasks if there is a reward.

A study from 1995 showed that extroverts are actually better learners, provided there is a reward. We can link this with higher dopamine levels that we talked about previously.

And here is another interesting fact:

Since their dopamine levels are higher, extroverts respond better to rewards, while introverts are more sensitive to punishment!

Now, this isn’t an invitation to start punishing instead of rewarding yourself if you are an introvert. It’s merely a suggestion. (We are kidding, of course.)

So, are introverts smarter?

As you can see — not exactly. Introverts are very capable of being intelligent and successful just as much as extroverts are. It’s important to remember that many other factors are involved in intelligence, such as memory capacity, reasoning, visualization, etc.

So while it is true that introverts can be intelligent, it is not true that all smart people are introverts.

We all have our own unique skills and talents. So while introversion may help one person be more skilled at solving problems, some other introverts may excel at creative thinking.

For that reason, we also need to take into account which type of introvert you are.

4 Types of Introverts – Which One Are You?

There are four main types of introverts:

#1 – Reserved Introvert

Reserved introverts can be shy, but they generally progress past this as they get older and gain more self-confidence. They do not enjoy large crowds or lots of noise and often choose to avoid social situations involving many people.

However, their reserved nature does not mean they are socially awkward. On the contrary, reserved introverts tend to be very close with their group of friends and are generally excited to spend time with them.

They are also usually very creative people who enjoy art or writing.

Related: 12 Low-Cost Crafting Hobbies Ideas You Should Try Today

#2 – Introspective Introvert

Introspective introverts enjoy spending time around others but may find themselves withdrawing into themselves when they are overwhelmed. This type of behavior can lead people to assume that an introspective introvert is shy, but this isn’t the case at all.

They would just much rather be alone with their thoughts than be surrounded by a lot of people.

They value knowledge and often have interesting things to say, making it very easy for others to see them as more confident than they really are.

Related: Why is Confidence Important (And How It Leads to Success)

#3 – Solitary Introvert

Solitary introverts tend to be on the opposite end of the spectrum from reserved introverts and would much rather spend time with themselves than anyone else.

They often enjoy spending lots of time alone reading or pursuing their favorite hobby. As a result, they are often very dedicated to their interests and are goal-oriented people.

For this reason, they may sometimes seem rude when people approach them because they generally prefer to be left alone.

Related: Have No Friends? – The 7 Biggest Mistakes You May Be Making

#4 – Social Introvert

Unlike the previous group, social introverts actually like spending time with others but do not enjoy large parties or large social gatherings.

In many cases, they can be mistaken as extroverts because they enjoy social interactions, but only with people close to them. Still, they would much rather have a few close friends over for coffee than go to a party and may even choose solitary hobbies over social ones.

Related: 11 Social Hobbies to Get Into & Meet New People

Introversion & Social Intelligence

As you can see, being introverted does not necessarily mean that someone is shy, nor does it indicate social awkwardness. On the contrary, many introverts are incredibly outgoing and open to social interactions. They are perfectly capable of interacting with others when the situation calls for it.

You can’t assume whether someone will be outgoing or shy just by knowing whether they’re introverts or extroverts.

Another essential thing to keep in mind is that it doesn’t mean that someone is shy because they don’t want to interact with others. Introversion and shyness are not the same.

However, some introverts may indeed struggle with social interactions more than an average person. If you are among them, feel free to read our ultimate guide to overcoming social awkwardness here:

7 Signs You May Be Socially Inept & How to Overcome This


While it is true that introversion and IQ may be correlated to a certain extent, there isn’t a single genetic trait that makes introverts smarter than extroverts. At the end of the day, it all comes down to an individual.

Now, we would like to hear from you:

What is your personal experience with people you know? Are introverts smarter than extroverts?

Please let us know by leaving a comment down below!

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INTJ (introvert, intuitive, logician, tactician) – Psychological service

Representatives of this type are great thinkers with an original mindset. The leading function of their character - intuition - allows them to clearly see the relationship and understand the consequences of actions and events occurring at the current moment.

Inventive and innovative mindset. This may apply to minor goods and services, as well as to the reorganization of the entire company. But, undoubtedly, they always consider themselves the most important object for improvement. These people are constantly looking for ways to expand their knowledge and, as a result, become more competent.

In addition to the creative mindset and imagination, their intellect is distinguished by inquisitiveness and recklessness, which manifests itself even when a person still doubts about innovations.

With the ability to quickly understand and analyze the most complex problems, they are excellent strategists with a well-developed ability to critically assess and soberly analyze the situation. Constantly looking for new tests for their own intellect, these people set rather difficult goals for themselves and, in spite of everything, usually achieve them.

Be that as it may, since the driven function of their character is feelings, these people have problems with the real perception of the world around them. They become so accustomed to spending time in the inner world of their thoughts and feelings that they may be completely unaware or not interested in what is happening around them. This can manifest itself both in small things and in serious cases, for example, in the inability to assess the feasibility of a project due to ignorance of the real costs of procuring the necessary resources.

Sometimes, because they tend to think in abstract, highly theoretical terms, this personality type may have difficulty communicating with people who are not so technically savvy or not patient enough to try to understand them.

Feeling most comfortable communicating on a highly intellectual level, these people often do not notice the reaction and emotional state of the interlocutor. They can be insensitive and inattentive even towards loved ones, needing a reminder or some period of time in order to appreciate and understand the importance of this relationship.

Demanding people who are strict with themselves and others, they may act condescendingly and/or patronizingly towards those who fail to live up to their standards, saving their praises for those who meet them exactly .

Endowed with the ability to concentrate, people of this type usually prefer to work alone or in a small team consisting of equally competent colleagues. Most of all, they do not like to spend time and energy explaining their thoughts or principles of work to people whom they consider less competent. Because of this secrecy, it is very difficult to get close to them. In particular, they do not like to talk about their ideas or work before it is finally completed.

Hard-working people who are able to endure no matter what, representatives of this type have an enviable perseverance and striving for a goal: nothing is able to keep them from fulfilling their plans. But such focus can cost them a lot, making them stubborn and adamant. In addition, these people usually have problems when they need to switch from one project to another. It takes no less effort for them to go back.

9 signs that you are a sociopath

He has no conscience, he lies and does not blush, he does not blush at all, except from wine, but never from guilt. Do you know such a person? Congratulations. Although, however, there is nothing: most likely, you happened to meet a sociopath, and before it’s too late, run away from him. You won't like talking to him.

Sociopathy is a dissocial personality disorder that can affect anyone: your neighbor, boss, girlfriend, husband, child, police officer, and so on. The disorder is not congenital: if a psychopath is to be born, then sociopathy is the result of childhood trauma, perhaps even abuse, physical or emotional.

"Suffer" is not quite the right word: sociopaths don't suffer from their disorder at all. But those around you get it. Because sociopaths do not put them in a penny, they live for their own pleasure, and nothing will force them to at least look at their behavior from the outside.

Cold, sinisterly attractive, unaware of doubts and remorse, fearless and ready to take risks, these people are dangerous to others. But it is rather difficult to understand: sociopaths are so charming that it is easy to fall in love with them, to see a teacher, a guru, a savior of the fatherland. And only when your life is destroyed or at least turned upside down, you will start to look around and ask what it was.

The biggest problem with a sociopath is that they are hard to recognize.

More precisely, it is easy to misunderstand him: not knowing how to experience such feelings as love, compassion, shame, guilt, they know very well how to show them.

These are excellent actors: not every psychiatrist will be able to accurately determine the first time that he is a sociopath. What can we say about us mere mortals.

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The easiest way to confuse a sociopath is with a narcissist - a charming, narcissistic idiot who endlessly flaunts in front of a mirror and posts selfies (according to a study conducted in 2015 at Ohio State University, men who often take selfies and select them for social networks are prone to narcissism) .

But wait. A sociopath is not an idiot at all. And he may have plans for you.

In 2005, American psychologist Martha Stout wrote a book that has become a classic, The Sociopath Next Door. In it, she clearly explains how high our chances are to suffer from the actions of sociopaths - because these are not movie characters.

Sociopaths often become criminals - but much more often their lack of conscience leads them to power.

And they begin to manage other people's lives in a way that suits them. To do this, you do not even need to declare yourself a guru or become the founder of a sect.

9 signs that you are at the mercy of a sociopath

1. He is charming

Sociopaths have a special attraction - and people who need to be nurtured and guided like to be around such a strong, powerful person. This calms them down, gives them confidence in the future.

In addition, sociopaths are often sexually attractive. By the way, they use it: promiscuity is one of the hallmarks of a sociopath.

2. He is unpredictable

And this distinguishes him from his psychopathic brother, with whom he is easily mistaken. Both do not experience emotions.

But if a psychopath is inclined to build and implement his plans in cold blood, then a sociopath is capable of spontaneous, inexplicable, often risky actions.

He can break the rules and go beyond the accepted.

3. He does not feel shame, regret or guilt

And it is pointless to be offended by them for this: they are simply arranged in such a way that such feelings are unknown to them. Because of this, alas, they can, without a twinge of conscience, betray, lie, intrigue, threaten - in general, harm other people in every possible way.

They act solely in their own interests - and because of this they often succeed in business and politics.

4. He likes to brag

More precisely, to exaggerate the significance of one's achievements or the exclusivity of one's experience. When telling a story from his life, a sociopath dramatizes events, embellishing, exaggerating, inventing colorful details - but at the same time he sounds extremely convincing.

5. He must win at any cost

It is better not to compete with such a person at all: in any situation he needs to win, and he will not disdain any means. This is a desperate debater who always wins, and if he is caught in a lie, he will dodge to the end, but will never admit it.

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6. He is very smart

High intelligence is rare, and it is especially offensive that sociopaths use their intellectual abilities to cheat and manipulate other people.

7. He doesn't love anyone

A sociopath is incapable of experiencing love. He can imitate it: he knows the right words and movements - so you don’t even know that, in fact, he is completely cold. But in fact, he does not know what love, empathy or sympathy is.

8. He never apologizes

And no wonder, we already understood that he does not feel guilty. So why empty words, some kind of apology? For what? Even when he is caught by the hand or pushed against the wall, he does not admit that he was wrong. On the contrary, he goes on the attack.

Try to directly and convincingly accuse him of something, giving evidence and examples. In response, he will attack you with accusations, stating that you specifically want to denigrate him and are probably already weaving a secret conspiracy.

9. He often presents himself as a knight with high moral principles

In fact, he can be a swindler, a deceiver, even a thief, but in words it always turns out that he is desperately fighting for the truth. He imagines himself almost the only person thanks to whom the world has not yet collapsed.

In work groups, sociopaths often provoke conflicts, pit people against each other, and declare themselves to be saviors, ready to keep the company from disintegration and ruin.

Learn more