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People Pretend to be Smarter in Social Situations

Update Date: Sep 07, 2013 10:52 AM EDT

When it comes to social outings and get-togethers with new acquaintances, finding topics to talk about could be difficult. For some people, talking about their lives and career are easy topics. For others, however, with more in mind than just making friends, they might embellish their facts. In a new survey, researchers found that in certain social situations, people might pretend to be smarter in order to appear more attractive.

This survey interviewed 2,000 people from Great Britain with the goal of finding out how people acted in social situations. They reported that 75 percent of them found intelligence highly attractive. 70 percent of the interviewees also stated that they would pick brains over beauty when looking for a partner. After discovering that people valued brains more than appearance, it was not surprising to find that people would try to appear smarter in order to be more attractive.

The researchers found that eight out of 10 people tend to lie in order to come off as a smarter person. For example, two-thirds of the interviewees admitted to having lied about reading 'smart' books like Tolstoy's War and Peace. The survey also unveiled that one-sixth of the people exaggerated their own academic accomplishments or ability to speak different languages fluently. Around 11 percent of them increased their own job statuses and positions. Aside from feigning intelligence by exaggerating about one's activities, the survey also found that people changed their appearances too.

The survey found that 53 percent of the participants stated that they had changed their physical appearance in order to look smarter. For men, one in 20 stated that they chose to grow a mustache or beard to look cleverer. For women, three percent of them went from blond to brunette. The researchers also found that people chose to wear business suits and even glasses to appear more intelligent.

"The study shows that being intelligent has never been more sexy and that the vast majority of us are working hard to appear smarter than we actually are," Behavioral psychologist Jo Hemmings said. "From expertise in literature and wine to a penchant for correct grammar and art-house or foreign language films, wannabe geeks are exaggerating their worldly qualities in order to appear more nerdy."      

The researchers also found that in order to seem more intelligent, people liked to prepare before entering a social situation. The survey found that six percent of people had re-tweeted current events from reliable sources but had never read about the current events. Five percent of people admitted to researching intelligent topics before a social event.

The survey found that books appeared to be the easiest way to pretend to be smart. 52 percent of people displayed books at their homes that were never read. The most popular books that people bragged about were George Orwell 1984, Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, and lastly, Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. The researchers found that women were more likely to lie about reading than men were. Men, on the other hand, were more likely to cite quotations from famous people and more likely to brag about their career.

Even though intelligence is important and attractive for the majority of the population, faking it can only last so long.

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