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Average Americans Think They're Smarter Than the Average American Average Americans Think They're Smarter Than the Average American

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Average Americans Think They're Smarter Than the Average American

What does that mean for the country as a whole?

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(Brian Goodman/Shutterstock)

Forget being smarter than a fifth-grader. Most Americans think they're smarter than everyone else in the country.

Fifty-five percent of Americans think that they are smarter than the average American, according to a new survey by YouGov, a research organization that uses online polling. In other words, as YouGov cleverly points out, the average American thinks that he or she is smarter than the average American.

 

A humble 34 percent of citizens say they are about as smart as everyone else, while a dispirited 4 percent say they are less intelligent than most people.

Men (24 percent) are more likely than women (15 percent) to say they are "much more intelligent" than the average American. White people are more likely to say the same than Hispanic and black people.

So, this many smart people must mean that, on the whole, the United States ranks pretty high in intelligence, right?

 

Not quite. According to the survey, just 44 percent of Americans say that Americans are "averagely intelligent." People who make less than $40,000 a year are much more likely to say that their fellow Americans are intelligent, while those who make more than $100,000 are far more likely to say that Americans are unintelligent.

The results are not surprising. Western cultures have a habit of inflating their self-worth, past research has shown. The most competent individuals also tend to underestimate their ability, while incompetent people overestimate it. Not out of arrogance, but of ignorance—the worst performers often don't get negative feedback. In this survey, 28 percent of high school graduates say they are "slightly more intelligent" than average, while just 1 percent of people with doctoral degrees say they are "much less intelligent."

Of course, a Ph.D. doesn't necessarily measure intelligence, nor does how much money you make. Those factors, along with gender and race, may be better indicators of humblebrag ability than brainpower.

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