21 Obvious Signs of People with Low Intelligence

Just like certain traits can reveal how smart someone is, other behaviors can instantly show us that someone might not be as intelligent.

Constantly Proving Their ‘Smarts’


If someone keeps telling you how smart they are, they might actually be looking for approval more than anything else. 

Genuine intelligence doesn’t need to be broadcasted—it just naturally shows up!

Bragging about Getting High Scores on Online Tests


It’s common for individuals who lack true knowledge to brag about high scores from online tests, but the bad news is, these tests often aren’t based on sound scientific principles. 

Many websites offer these tests more as a means to attract visitors and increase advertising revenue than to provide accurate assessments.

Hard Time Admitting Mistakes


When someone can’t even admit to being wrong, it often hints at limited intelligence. These individuals tend to overestimate their knowledge and find it tough to accept corrections, resistant to recognizing their own slip-ups.

On the flip side, an intelligent approach involves acknowledging errors and aiming to learn more. 



While gossip might seem like just casual chat, it’s often not as innocent as it appears. 

Finding pleasure in gossip can be a sign of lower emotional intelligence. In contrast, smarter folks usually like to talk about ideas and constructive subjects instead of spreading stories about others.

Pointing Fingers


A clear sign of low emotional intelligence is the inability to accept personal responsibility for mistakes. Those who struggle in this area often view themselves as flawless and cannot recognize their own faults, leading them to blame others instead of owning up to their own mistakes.

Thinking They’re Better Than Everyone Else


Everyone likes to feel like they’re a bit special, but constantly saying you’re better than others usually doesn’t make it true. 

This overconfidence often comes from not really understanding themselves, which makes some people think they’re the absolute best, when in reality, they’re often not.

Not Keen on Learning


Curious people love to keep learning—they know there’s always something new to discover. But some people think they’ve learned enough and stop the learning process too soon. 

Real smarts mean you’re always open to learning more, not just when it’s convenient. Because as they say, you can never learn enough. 

Resorting to Insults in Arguments


A smart individual knows how to support their points with evidence and reasoned arguments. Conversely, resorting to name-calling during a dispute often reveals a lack of solid arguments and is typically indicative of poor emotional intelligence and maturity.

Struggling to Grasp the Hypothetical Scenarios


Struggling with abstract concepts like hypothetical situations is a notable limitation in cognitive flexibility. This challenge hinders a person’s ability to envision various outcomes or explore different approaches, which are critical skills for effective decision-making.

  • A Simple Test: Discussing a conditional hypothetical over breakfast, like “What would you do if you could have breakfast with anyone from history?” can be a simple yet effective way to measure someone’s cognitive abilities. If they struggle to grasp the concept of the hypothetical scenario, it might indicate a lower level of intellectual flexibility or problem-solving skills.

Easy Pickings for Scammers


Smart people can spot a scam from a mile away. But those who aren’t as sharp can end up easy targets for cheats and scams. 

It’s a tough spot to be in, making them more likely to fall for something fishy.

Ignoring All Criticism


Some folks think they have all the answers and shut themselves off from different viewpoints. Intelligent people, however, recognize the importance of listening to and integrating diverse perspectives to further enhance their intelligence. 

Having Too Much Confidence


People often overestimate their own abilities, thinking they know more about a topic than they actually do—especially in areas where they’re not experts. This is perfectly captured by the Dunning-Kruger effect, which suggests that the skills needed to do a task well are exactly the ones needed to judge competence in it.

In simpler terms, if you’re not good at something, you might not even realize how much you’re struggling.

Struggling to Put Educational Concepts Into Practice


Being book-smart is one thing, but being able to actually use that knowledge in everyday situations is a whole different story. 

People who have a hard time applying what they learn to real-world problems usually lack flexibility and problem-solving skills, which set apart individuals with a high IQ from those who might not be as sharp.

All or Nothing Mindset


Flexibility and adaptability are key traits of an intelligent mind. 

Those who view the world in strict binaries—right or wrong, black or white—often struggle to get through life’s complexities and adapt to new situations.

Lack of Self-Awareness 


A lot of times, people lose track of how self-aware they are, finding it hard to judge their own skills accurately. Their stubbornness and a hard time looking inward can lead them to stick with some pretty illogical beliefs, without even realizing their own flaws.

Talking More than Listening


Rather than listening, people with low intelligence often prefer to dominate conversations to mask their lack of knowledge. 

This behavior makes them poor listeners and also leaves them out of touch with others’ ideas and concerns.

Overly Influenced by Others


People with low intelligence are sometimes too quick to take every opinion they hear as fact, and they end up losing track of what’s true. This kind of openness can leave them confused and more vulnerable to getting misled or even tricked.

Claiming to Be an ‘Alpha Male’


Flexing about being the “alpha male” frequently can actually show a lack of understanding about what true leadership and confidence entail. 

Often, this behavior is a cover for personal insecurities and a desire to control or dominate others, rather than a display of genuine strength or empowerment of those around them.

Pointless Arguments Seem Like Useful Discussions 


Being able to tell the difference between a productive discussion and a pointless argument is a sign of intelligence. 

However, those who struggle with this often take corrections or critiques as personal attacks, showing their low self-esteem and making it hard for them to engage meaningfully.

LOTS of Qualifiers


People who aren’t very confident in their smarts often use a lot of qualifiers when they talk to avoid making mistakes. This can make their statements sound uncertain and show they’re not too sure about what they know or their decisions.

Making Impulse Decisions


Limited foresight can lead some to make hasty decisions without considering the broader impacts. This lack of deliberation can lead to misunderstandings or strained relationships, as they fail to consider how their actions affect others.

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