The Positive Impact of Acting Smarter Than You Are

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Should you play dumb or retain your awesomeness? That is the question. What’s your immediate response to feeling humiliated? When you get an answer wrong what do you do? Do you try to turn things around or just go with your instinct and hope nobody will notice that you made a mistake?

Your reaction to such situations can actually say a lot about your personality as well as how you regard yourself. It shows whether you respect yourself and how confident and ambitious you are as a person. If you consider yourself to have above average intelligence, you are probably acting smarter than you are without even realising it. That’s because this special ability is quite easy to master.

And - no I am not talking about presenting someone else than yourself; just making your personality traits more prominent so that other people will remember you as an intelligent individual. This allows others to see just how smart and knowledgeable you are and above all that you know what you are doing.

See Also: How Playing an Instrument Can Make You More Intelligent  

In fact, psychologists believe that acting smarter than everyone else can make people listen to you and regard you more highly. Cameron Anderson, a research psychologist at UC Berkeley, came to the conclusion that overconfidence can make you more powerful and persuasive.

In a study, Anderson examined the power of overconfidence while observing small groups of MBA students working together on a project. The task given to them was to identify a list of historical names and events whose terms were made-up. Since students weren’t aware of that fact, trusting in their abilities is what made them more confident of succeeding, pretending to be familiar with the false terms.

When the researchers asked participants to tell them who had influenced the group’s decision the most, it seemed that those who were more confident were also the most influential having scored a higher group contribution due to their prominence and power.

This proves that acting like you are smarter than you are and projecting confidence even though you are uncertain, is actually an effective way of winning other people’s admiration. Thinking that you might be worth listening to. Perhaps the most important thing is that doing so also makes you believe in yourself, thus making you more likely to succeed and to better yourself in the long-run.



Another interesting fact in regards to acting smarter than you are is that it can confirm you are a competent individual. If you look at the opposite, doubting your abilities and acting insecure will only encourage people to believe that you are less skilled than you really are. As such, some might argue that acting like a jerk is the way to success.

Similar research conducted by representatives of the University of Amsterdam showed that semi-obnoxious behaviour can make a person seem more powerful, and the truth is it does make them more powerful. If you are in a room full of people and you act like you are the smartest who do you think will be more likely to take charge of the group? Will it be you or the quiet kid in the corner? See? Professionals say that this has much to do with self-assurance as well as taking the initiative.

Even though being a jerk or adjusting to a ‘me-first’ behaviour may have worked for Steve Jobs, it’s not the best strategy to follow for those who don’t have Jobs’ charismatic skills. While things may be perfect in the beginning when you start gaining your first followers, being a jerk will only bring you more problems on the table in terms of communicating with and managing other people.

But what does this make you? Do you think you are in need of assurance or are you the MR. Know-It-All?

Here’s a list of what you should do and not to when trying to act smart to ensure that you are doing it right:


  • Think before you speak – first make sure what you are saying is true and accurate.
  • Talk loud, clearly and with confidence – it’s more convincing and has more power over people.
  • Listen to others carefully – stay quiet and jump in when you have something relevant to say.
  • Expand your vocabulary – knowing a lot of words that are not common will make people think you are smart.
  • Keep up with culture and stay up to date with news from around the world – so that you can talk about ongoing events and be relevant.
  • Read more - discussions about the books you read can make you look more sophisticated.

Since, not many people follow these tips, they are generally impressed when someone is doing it.


  • Avoid bragging about yourself and skills – this will only make yourself disliked by other people.
  • Never gossip or complain about other people.
  • Never use complex words you don’t know the meaning of.
  • Avoid talking about things that don’t interest you just to engage in a conversation – this will only turn into a negative discussion.

These will only make you look silly to other people’s eyes and will uncover more of your insecurities instead of your confidence, knowledge and authority.

So there you have it; the secrets to acting smarter than you are. Not only does it help you to believe that you are smarter yourself, but also makes others believe you are smarter than you are. When you get into that mindset and start thinking about how awesome you are and can be, that’s when you get that spark in your eyes that warns others to ‘watch out’!

All it takes is to be fearless, be bold, be smart even when you are not. Try it out or even fake it if you have to until you manage to believe it.

If you enjoyed reading this article, I am sure you will also appreciate this video from Fast Company that suggest some alternative ways of tricking people into thinking you are smarter than you really are:

What do you think about this? I am interested in your opinion so let me know what you think in the comments section below…