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6 Suprising Downsides Of Being Extremely Intelligent

You might think life would be easier, happier, and infinitely more fulfilling if only you could rack up a few more IQ points. But that’s hardly the case, as evidenced by the 100-plus answers on a Quora thread titled, “When does intelligence become a curse?

Users wrote about everything from the absurdly high expectations that people place on them to the trouble of constantly being perceived as a braggart. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the most thought-provoking responses and explained the science behind them.

5. You tend to overthink things

A common theme in this Quora thread was the pitfalls of spending too much time contemplating and analyzing. For one thing, you may get maudlin when you try to find the existential significance of every concept and experience. “You realize how moribund everything is and that nothing really means anything. You search for answers and it drives you crazy,” writes Akash Ladha.

Indeed, a widely covered study published in 2015 found that verbal intelligence really is linked to worry and rumination. From a practical standpoint, all that perseveration means smart people may find it impossible to make a choice. Tirthankar Chakraborty writes: “An understanding of the possible ramifications of your decisions, especially the tendency to over-analyze those consequences, makes it so that the decision is never taken.”

6. You understand how much you don’t know

Being super-intelligent often means appreciating the limits of your own cognition. Try as you might, you’ll never be able to learn or understand everything. Writes Mike Farkas: “Intelligence is a curse when … the more you know, the more you feel the less you know.”

Farkas’ observation recalls a classic study by Justin Kruger and David Dunning, which found that the less intelligent you are, the more you overestimate your cognitive abilities — and vice versa.

In one experiment, for example, students who’d scored in the lowest quartile on a test adapted from the LSAT overestimated the number of questions they’d gotten right by nearly 50%. Meanwhile, those who’d scored in the top quartile slightly underestimated how many questions they’d gotten right.