Choose your own adventure: You’re at a party, trying to have a good time, when someone brings up War and Peace. Finding yourself caught in the middle of a conversation about a book you haven’t read, do you: (A) listen quietly, (B) leave the area, or (C) say something about the book anyway, in an effort to seem smart?
When 2,000 Britons were polled last year about tactics they’d used to try to appear more intelligent, 62 percent of them confessed to having chosen option C. Indeed, according to the survey (a promotional stunt by the nerd-loving TV show The Big Bang Theory), lying about having read classic books was the most popular strategy for appearing smarter. Another strategy identified by the survey, wearing glasses, appears to be surprisingly effective. Figures released in 2011 by the College of Optometrists, in the U.K., show that 43 percent of the people it surveyed believe glasses make a person look more intelligent.
But you may not need glasses if you’re beautiful. A Czech study found that certain facial features—narrow faces, long noses, and thin chins—correlated with both perceived intelligence and attractiveness. Interestingly, men who were considered smart-looking actually tended to have higher IQs; the same was not true for women .