Taboo word fluency indicates general fluency
Intuitively, whenever you hear someone use profanities, blurt out obscene phrases, mix in a lot of curse words or swear a lot in their speech, and use slang more often than the neutral or “normal” words, you would think that either they have a very limited vocabulary or just do not have the level of intelligence to carry on a proper conversation without mingling their sentences with an expletive or two.
That was what I thought although admittedly, a person’s use of slang or colloquial words should logically have no correlation with their intelligence since it is possible that people who were brought up in an environment surrounded by peers often using that kind of language could be a genius. It is just that they were exposed to language which would probably sound cooler to them as opposed to their euphemistic counterparts or “wholesome” words in general.
However, in a recent study conducted by psychologists Kristin L. Jay, an associate professor at Marist College, and Timothy B. Jay, a professor emeritus at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts and author of the book, The Psychology of Language, they found that individuals who have a high fluency in using “taboo words” generally have a high fluency in all other categories of speech.
Their hypothesis was that it didn’t matter what kind of words one used, rather if someone is fluent in one type of speech, then that would generally translate to fluency in speech, whether it be neutral, formal, or otherwise, casual types of words. In other words, they actually do have a wide vocabulary. Furthermore, taboo expressives and general pejoratives had a higher generation rate than slurs – discriminatory and derogatory insults – which consisted the periphery of the overall lexicon size.
As written on their paper, “A voluminous taboo lexicon may better be considered an indicator of healthy verbal abilities rather than a cover for their deficiencies.
“People who use taboo words understand their general expressive content as well as nuanced distinctions that must be drawn out to use slurs appropriately. The ability to make nuanced distinctions indicates the presence of more rather than less linguistic knowledge, as implied by the POV (Poverty of Vocabulary) view.”
In terms of personality, they found that people who have a high taboo fluency also scored high in the traits of neuroticism and openness which could potentially signify that these people are easily agitated or would constantly find themselves in a negative or anxious emotional state which might be the reason why they tend to use pejoratives as a way of releasing the tension that has built up inside them. The quality of openness would actually suggest that their minds work in unconventional ways to find innovative or creative approaches in dealing with and looking at various subject matters, problems, and issues.
Lastly, they concluded that a person’s ability to generate taboo language had no correlation or was not a sign that they had a limited or lacking vocabulary. The study merely tries to point out that these people only have a tendency to utter expletives or profanities as a more forceful way of expressing their emotions and opinions. It has no bearing on their fluency or general intelligence whatsoever.
Higher IQ children sustain nocturnal sleeping patterns in adulthood
Meanwhile, other qualities that intelligent people usually exhibit include staying up late or being a night owl. Another study suggested that nocturnal people could possibly have a higher general intelligence than those who would often sleep earlier. The basis for this insight relies in ethnographic studies and research in activities done by our ancestors. Generally, our ancestors would have dinner slightly after dusk and then go to sleep. In the morning, they would wake up a little before dawn, at around 6 AM.
Other societies that participate in night activities usually only involve singing, joking, and other socializing activities huddled around the fire until they drift off to sleep. There have been no other records of sustained nighttime activities in traditional societies therefore, it would be safe to assume that being more active at night would be an evolutionary trait.
In order to validate the hypothesis, a survey was conducted from a large representative sample of American teenagers and young adults. From the results, it can be inferred that children who have higher IQs tend to become more nocturnal in their adulthood than those with lower IQs. It has been observed that individuals with higher intelligence slept later on weekdays and weekends, and woke up later on weekdays.
Working in a messy setting promotes creativity and innovation
One last trait or habit that could indicate that you are a highly intelligent individual is the fact that you have a messy desk. This could suggest that you have space or room to induce out-of-the-box creative thinking and to generate spontaneous, innovative ideas.
This study from the University of Minnesota states that people who are less concerned with organization of their things or the orderliness of their schedule have more time and space in their brains to think about more important things.
Psychological scientist Kathleen Vohs concludes: “Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights. Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe.”
Highly intelligent or not?
Now, these studies do not mean to say that people who have a wholesome speech, sleep earlier, and tidy their workstations aren’t intelligent. It only suggests that people with a high IQ tend to exhibit these behaviors perhaps as an expression of their personality.
This also doesn’t mean that if you curse more, sleep late more, or maintain a messier working environment that you would become more intelligent. It’s not a backward correlation. What matters is that you do what works for you.