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Gisela McKay

President and Co-Founder, pixcode


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How do smart people "find their level" in conversation?

I am interested in identifying how smart people (gifted/exceptional or whatever word we’re using this week) people recognize each other.

I have observed that they can identify each other relatively quickly, and even broadly determine where they sit relative to each other while average or “less smart” people can usually identify that they are dealing with “smart” people but not necessarily the extent to which they are smart.

Some things I have observed that are “tells” of being “quicker”:

1. A willingness to leave the conversational basics behind and explore deeper into the subject (and if the person they are conversing with does not follow, drop back to the level the other can cope with).
2. Anchoring - taking the current topic of conversation and looking for a frame of reference they are already familiar with to understand it better.
3. Quips and parallel commentary - fleeting comments that are not meant to derail the main thrust of the conversation.

Any other keys you have observed in your experience?


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    Aug 12 2011: I think that all people (at least can, but most often do) find "their level" or group they (want to) belong to.

    The idea of 'like attracts like' and the urge to find comparable peers is a strong human motivator.
    Smart people seek smart people
    Rich people seek rich people
    same goes for beauty, art, sports, interests, status,...

    How do we recognize people who are like us? Probably our stereotyping skills are a first good thing to look at as an explanation... mutual acceptance during/after meeting some-one would be a logical next step.

    But maybe we can put it to the test?
    - try and bring a group of people together
    - do a matching of their profiles to predict in what cluster of people they would end up.
    - if only the intelligent end up clustered together, and no other personality traits are explanatory for forming of groups, you have strong support of your theory. If intelligence is a worse predictor than other traits, one needs to assume the more general hypothesis of 'like seeks like'.
    • Aug 12 2011: Nice experimental design. Would love to see the outcomes.


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