Using These Words Makes You Sound Less Intelligent, According to Study

Communication is all about delivering a clear and concise message.

As they say, you only get one chance at a first impression. You might have your manners and shoes on check, but the moment you start talking could potentially bring it all down. That is, if a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology is to be believed. 

According to the study's author Daniel M. Oppenheimer, "deliberately increasing the complexity of their vocabulary so as to give the impression of intelligence" is actually doing the opposite. Using highfalutin words, in short, are making you sound less intelligent—which clearly isn't a good first impression.

Oppenheimer collected personal statements from admissions applications and changed the words with complicated synonyms to test the study out. He then asked undergraduates and asked them if they would accept the candidate based on their personal statements. He found that the respondents were least impressed by the applications with the most complex language.

In another survey, Oppenheimer had undergraduate students review dissertations that were also manipulated. After, he asked the participants to rank the intelligence of each author. And yes, those that had simple language were determined to be the most intelligent authors.

So, instead of trying to impress someone with your wide vocabulary, use simple language and don't let your erudite vernacular get in the way of making a good impression. After all, communication is all about delivering a clear and concise message.

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About The Author
Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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