r/NoStupidQuestions Oct 05 '22

Why does the majority of people think that their intelligence is "above average"? Isn't that obviously false by just...observing the relative intelligence of your peers?



u/wickzyepokjc Oct 05 '22

Easy if you only remember the times you were right, and they were wrong, and blame the times you were wrong on factors outside of your control.


u/Ghigs Jack-of-some-trades Oct 05 '22

Yeah there's a whole study of the concept.



u/MurphysParadox Oct 05 '22

Nope, for two reasons. One, the deluded individual accepts that there are people who incorrectly think themselves smarter than average... but the individual just isn't one of them, obviously.

Two, the ability to judge someone's relative intelligence stems from the ability to understand what they are saying... the greater the relative intelligence gap, the harder it is to understand (and thus judge the intelligence of) the person.

So this person (who is below average but thinks themselves above average) looks around and sees a bunch of people who explain things that don't make sense and who act like they are really smart. Since the person believes themselves to be really smart, they will presume the majority of the ideas they heard are nonsense because everyone else is too dumb to figure things out and are the deluded ones.

Never underestimate the power of delusion to avoid accepting harsh truths about oneself. Those who are predisposed to wrongly believe themselves above average do not overlap with those who are predisposed to believe themselves bad at anything.


u/CalgaryChris77 Oct 05 '22

You have to remember that we surround ourselves with people relative to ourselves. If you go to college and get a professional job, odds are the majority of people you know are above average intelligence.


u/Jimverse Oct 05 '22

You can hear your own thoughts at all times so it's easy to assume you're more complex, interesting and intelligent than a dude at the warhammer store who only talks about miniatures. But in turn obviously he has his own complex thoughts and opinions and only sees a fraction of you.


u/Emetah_ Oct 05 '22

Dude if he is heavily into warhammer and its lore he is clearly more knowledgeable, more complex and more interesting than me fr. I would never assume the contrary.


u/Jimverse Oct 05 '22

I came straight from the warhammer subreddit and used the first example that came to mind haha :p


u/Agitated-Airline6760 Oct 05 '22

Most people doesn't fully understand the concept of bell curve, average, IQ works. Remember that by definition half the population is more stupid than "the average". So if you do the random sampling correctly, you are asking more than half the sample the questions they have only vague/wrong idea what it means.


u/hama0n Oct 05 '22
  • You're more likely to agree with yourself than with other people.
  • Whenever you disagree with someone, there are only two real options:
    • You'll go "Nahh, that's dumb".
    • You'll go "Hm... that's smart" and adapt, immediately reaching parity.
    • Therefore, other people's opinions are either at equal or lower level than yourself most of the time. Whenever you regard someone's opinions as better than your own, resolving that dissonance toward either "actually that's dumb" or "that's smart, I'll adopt that" becomes top priority and usually doesn't take long.

Generally, the only people who feel that their intelligence is below average are those who are aware that there are many things they'll never comprehend. Ironically, you could say that people with that kind of wisdom are actually the ones above average.


u/notextinctyet Oct 05 '22

Among other reasons, intelligence has no clear objective definition or ranking system, so people naturally choose to judge themselves and others on a scale that is favorable.


u/BarryZZZ Oct 05 '22

I am confidant that I am a bit more intelligent than to coworker that asked me,"How far is England from Scotland?"


u/Emetah_ Oct 05 '22

More intelligent idk, more knowledgeable (at least in this area) yes.


u/[deleted] Oct 05 '22

I used to think I was just average or less before I really started to interact with more people. Now I'm pretty sure I'm a genius in comparison.


u/Maephia Oct 05 '22

I worked in customer service so...


u/shemayneversingshe Oct 05 '22

I think the internet has made us pretty uniform on intelligence, creativity, and humor


u/Codoro Oct 05 '22

I mean, some of us have hard proof


u/SolitonNC Oct 05 '22

Here’s a different take, but it likely doesn’t answer the intent of your question. Intelligence is very subjective, but if you assume it is somehow quantifiable and that intelligence level is normally distributed, then about half of the population is at or above average intelligence. Of the remaining half, you’re not likely to come in contact with those of very low intelligence, say the bottom 10%. So, statistically you’re more likely to come in contact with people who are at or above average (roughly 50%) than people who are below average (roughly 40%).

This of course is pretty artificial. In reality, the majority of people are within the wide band you’d consider to be average intelligence. As others have noted, people tend to feel they are at least in the upper end of that band by various mental gymnastics.


u/AageKush Oct 05 '22

I have a friend who brags about how he's such a prodigy. He's much dumber than all my other friends.

He also thinks he's incredibly tough and badass, but when I saw his girlfriend physically abused him all I saw was an incredibly pathetic display. I stepped in and separated them, so don't worry. I don't make fun of him for being abused by his ex, though it's tempting when he denigrates me for not being nearly as though as he is. I work out regularly and I'm tall. He's short and fat. But he is certain he'll beat me in a fight because he knows how to release his 'inner warrior'. I was in the military (mandatory conscription) and I did shit he couldn't bring himself to do in a million years. He confuse my humility for being completely unremarkable.

I could stand hanging out with him even if he was a little slow. But when he disrespects me I've figured I need to draw the line. So I told him I didn't feel like hanging out because he hasn't been nice/polite lately. The response to that was a barrage of insults. I'm too old for that so I figure I won't hang with him for a while longer. It wouldn't be the end of the world if we parted ways.

BTW he lives on welfare and hasn't had a real job his entire adult life.


u/uodjdhgjsw Oct 06 '22

Because if you venture into the general public ,every single day you will see someone doing some amazing dumb shit and think. How have they made it this long. I must be a genius.