Talking About This Makes You Seem Less Intelligent, Experts Say
You might want to tone down your obsession, or at least change the subject.
We all have different ideas of how we want to be seen by others, but most of us would at least like to have our intelligence shine through. As humans, we tend to think we're pretty sharp, and we want to be validated by others. Unfortunately, those around us might not always agree, and some of our behavior could actually make strangers and even friends doubt our smarts. Now, experts have pinpointed a bad habit that could be making you seem less intelligent to other people—and there's research to back it up. Read on to find out what you might want to talk less about in the future.
We use conversation to assess other people's intelligence.
The main way we get to know others and form opinions about those people is through talking, says Raffaello Antonino, a counseling psychologist with over 10 years of experience and the founder of Therapy Central. John F. Tholen, PhD, a cognitive psychologist and author of Focused Positivity, agrees, noting that "we tend to judge each other based on our conversation because what we say is usually the best source of information we have about each other."
According to Antonino, communication is also one of the most notable ways people express intelligence. You don't have to be a scientist or a programmer or a novel writer—you can still end up being viewed as a smart person by others through your communication. "People can conclude that a person is intelligent just by talking to that person," Antonino says.
But talking about certain things may make you seem less intelligent.
While communicating with other people can make them view you as an intelligent person, it can also have the opposite effect. It all comes down to what you're talking about. According to experts, there is one topic of conversation that often tends to affect how people view you in this regard: celebrities. "If you're talking a lot about the newest scandals of Kim Kardashian, people may not perceive you as an intelligent person for a number of reasons," Antonino says.
A new Hungarian study doesn't help your case. The study, which was published Nov. 8 in the BMC Psychology journal, sought to determine the connection between celebrity worship and cognitive skills. The researchers surveyed nearly 2,000 Hungarian adults, having them complete two intelligence tests, a celebrity attitude scale, and a self-esteem scale. According to the study, higher reported celebrity worship indicated lower performance on the cognitive tests.
"These findings suggest that there is a direct association between celebrity worship and poorer performance on the cognitive tests that cannot be accounted for by demographic and socioeconomic factors," the researchers wrote in their study.
There are several reasons why people might think you're less intelligent if you're celeb obsessed.
According to Antonino, one reason why people tend to look down on the celebrity obsessed is that they think celebrities are "easy and meaningless" to discuss. Another is that people view celebrity content as content "for the masses," in that everyone more or less knows about it. "These are the reasons why being obsessed with celebrities can be viewed as more stupid than being obsessed with thermodynamics or Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov," Antonino explains.
But another major concern is that "talking a lot about celebrities takes time," according to Antonino—so people will assume you don't have room to discuss or think about anything else. "When it comes to intelligence and conversations, it's generally the breadth of topics you're able to talk about that matters," he suggests.
Katie Ziskind, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and the owner of Wisdom Within Counseling in Niantic, Connecticut, says that people tend to believe "you're not able to talk about diverse topics that many people can relate to" when you often discuss celebrities in an obsessive way.
"Talking about a celebrity may only be relatable for people who also know that celebrity, so you might be monopolizing the conversation and being perceived as less intelligent if you only talk about your favorite celebrity," she explains.
You can look for signs that others are thinking less of you.
You may be wondering just how much celebrity discussion is too much when it comes to how your intelligence is perceived. But according to Antonino, there are usually telltale signs that indicate someone thinks you're not that intelligent or sees themselves as smarter than you. This includes people "discarding your viewpoint without even considering it, not listening to you at all, [and] always correcting your grammar mistakes or 'completing' your thoughts instead of you," he says.
You might also notice what people don't talk to you about. "If you talk about celebrities obsessively, people may not view you as intelligent and may not turn to you for academic or professional advice thinking you may only be knowledgeable about the tabloids," Ziskind notes. "They may not want to continue a lengthy conversation with you as they may perceive you as not being able to add to their life."