Pretending to be Smart

Have you ever taken a date to a cerebral movie or the opera? Have you ever taken a classic work of literature to read at the beach? If so, you are not alone. But why are you doing it?

From the Telegraph:

Men try to impress their friends almost twice as much as women do by quoting Shakespeare and pretending to like jazz to seem more clever.

A fifth of all adults admitted they have tried to impress others by making out they are more cultured than they really are, but this rises to 41 per cent in London.

Scotland is the least pretentious country as only 14 per cent of the 1,000 UK adults surveyed had faked their intelligence there, according to Ask Jeeves research.

Typical methods of trying to seem cleverer ranged from deliberately reading a ‘serious’ novel on the beach, passing off other people’s witty remarks as one’s own and talking loudly about politics in front of others.

Two thirds put on the pretensions for friends, while 36 per cent did it to seem smarter in their workplace and 32 per cent tried to impress a potential partner.

One in five swapped their usual holiday read for something more serious on the beach and one in four went to an art gallery to look more cultured.

When it came to music tastes, 20 per cent have pretended to prefer Beethoven to Beyonce and many have referenced operas they have never seen.

A spokesman for Ask Jeeves said: “We were surprised by just how many people think they should go to such lengths in order to impress someone else.

“They obviously think they will make a better impression if they pretend to like Beethoven rather than admit they listen to Beyonce or read The Spectator rather than Loaded.

“Social media and the internet means it is increasingly easy to present this kind of false image about themselves.

“But in the end, if they are really going to be liked then it is going to be for the person they really are rather than the person they are pretending to be.”

Social media also plays a large part with people sharing Facebook posts on politics or re-tweeting clever tweets to raise their intellectual profile.

Men were the biggest offenders, with 26 per cent of men admitting to the acts of pretence compared to 14 per cent of women.

Top things people have done to seem smarter:

Repeated someone else’s joke as your own

Gone to an art gallery

Listened to classical music in front of others

Read a ‘serious’ book on the beach

Re-tweeted a clever tweet

Talked loudly about politics in front of others

Read a ‘serious’ magazine on public transport

Shared an intellectual article on Facebook

Quoted Shakespeare

Pretended to know about wine

Worn glasses with clear lenses

Mentioned an opera you’d ‘seen’

Pretended to like jazz

Read the entire article here.

Image: Opera. Courtesy of the New York Times.

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