How to look smarter
Actually becoming smarter? That's another newsletter. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
Here are nine science-backed tactics to help you make yourself look and seem more intelligent—regardless of your education or actual intelligence. Even if you'd never use them, they're good to know, in case someone else tries to use them on you.
1. Keep your eyes open (literally).
Writing in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers said they found people whose eyes drooped were perceived as being less intelligent. Theory: Drooping eyes suggested depression or fatigue, both of which "adversely affect cognitive capacity."
2. Lose weight.
"A Czech study found that certain facial features—narrow faces, long noses, and thin chins—correlated with both perceived intelligence and attractiveness," reports The Atlantic. Barring plastic surgery, that means losing weight.
3. Be perceived as a teetotaler.
Researchers at the universities of Pennsylvania and Michigan came up with this research, which they termed "the imbibing idiot bias." In short, they found that simply holding an alcoholic beverage leads people to be "perceived ... [as] ... less intelligent than those who do not."
4. Wear thick glasses.
"Wearing eyeglasses can lead strangers to regard you as more intelligent," reports The Wall Street Journal, citing a 2011 study in the Swiss Journal of Psychology. The effect is most pronounced with thick glasses; wire rim or rimless glasses didn't carry the same benefit.
5. Smile, but be subtle.
Similar to the findings on keeping your eyes open, the same study found that "mouth curvature" (basically a subtle smile) suggested increased intelligence. According to the Study's lead author: "People over generalize in judging those with droopy eyelids and a frown as being tired and having a low mood, both of which have a well-documented detrimental effect on cognitive performance."
6. Try not to swear.
Harris Interactive surveyed 5,800 hiring managers and workers about their attitudes toward people who swear. Result: 54 percent said they thought swearing made people seem less intelligent. Larger percentages said it also made them seem less professional, and that it called their control and maturity into question .
7. Make eye contact and look directly at people.
Nora A. Murphy, an associate professor of psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, who has done extensive research in this area, suggests that "one of the strongest and most accurate signs of intelligence is looking at others when you are speaking to them," she told The Wall Street Journal. "And put away that phone."
8. Use a middle initial.
This one is straightforward. Writing in the European Journal of Social Psychology, British researchers said they found that "the display of middle initials increases positive evaluations of people's intellectual capacities and achievements." (I’d put a small figurative asterisk on this one, since American and British cultures have different attitudes toward names to begin with.)
9. Speak clearly and pleasantly.
Tempted to use big words or confusing manners of speech to seem more intelligent. It turns out that's exactly the wrong thing to do. Instead, be as clear as possible in your communication. The research behind this claim comes from the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, whose authors have a sense of irony. The title they came up with: "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity (Problems With Using Long Words Needlessly)."
7 other things worth knowing today
Two men are facing attempted murder charges after an apparent road rage incident in Florida ended with a shootout, with each man's daughter (ages 14 and 5) getting hit in the crossfire. William Hale, 35, of Georgia, and Frank Allison, 43, of Florida, have both been charged with attempted murder after the road rage incident on Saturday, Oct. 8, which lasted for "several miles" and spanned two counties. (Fox 5)
How a Texas real estate technology company's secret algorithm encourages landlords to raise rents, and discourage negotiating with tenants even if it means leaving units empty, short-term. In Nashville, as an example the company cited, rents jumped 14.5%. Company executive: “As a property manager, very few of us would be willing to actually raise rents double digits within a single month by doing it manually.” (ProPublica)
A sailor on the U.S. Navy ship USS Bonhomme Richard, which was destroyed by fire and declared a total loss, was court-martialed on a charge of arson but acquitted. Now, reports are emerging that Seaman Recruit Ryan Sawyer Mays "may actually be a minor hero" for having helped others aboard escape the blaze. (Task & Purpose)
The global superstars of BTS will perform their mandatory military service in South Korea, the group's representatives said Monday, confirming a move that was long dreaded by their army of fans. The stars will reconvene as a group again around 2025 after fulfilling their service commitment. Under South Korean law, all able-bodied men are expected to serve 18 to 21 months in the military to defend against the threat from the country's nuclear-armed neighbor, North Korea. But the law allows for special exemptions to be made for some, including athletes, musicians and others who enhance the country's prestige. (NBC News)
A private, 28-acre Scottish island with a lighthouse and 5-bedroom home is on sale for less than the average house in America; asking price is the equivalent of $426,267. (Caveat: it's only accessible by boat or helicopter.) (Insider)
Workers at an Apple store in Oklahoma City voted to unionize, marking the second unionized Apple store in the U.S. in a matter of months, according to the federal labor board. This follows a vote to unionize an Apple store in Towson, Maryland, in June. (AP)
An unopened first-generation iPhone from 2007 in its original box is up for auction, and could sell for more than $30,000 — 50 times its original price. (My question: if the box is unopened, how do we know the original iPhone is in there? (Business Insider)
Thanks for reading. Photo credit: Unsplash. I wrote about some of this before at Inc.com. See you in the comments!