If you spend a lot of time around poorly educated people, you may feel like you’re getting dumber just being around them. Is it actually possible for other people to lower your intelligence just through interaction?
I currently live in a house with three other family members. One of those people has a low IQ and serious pronunciation and grammar issues due to poor education and being raised in a low education country environment. The more time I spend with this person, the more I feel like my intelligence is being drained away. I have to catch myself and use conscious effort not to pick up and use the slang and poor grammar.
I haven’t been able to find any scientific proof that spending large amounts of time with undereducated people will lower your IQ. However, I know that many people studying behavior have noticed that intelligent people will “dumb down” their vocabulary and use more slang in the presence of people of lesser intelligence. We do this so we do not seem superior and so that they will feel more comfortable.
It occurs to me that any frequently repeated behavior can become habit, and habit can affect self. If you’re in the presence of undereducated people and you dumb down your speech to make them feel more comfortable, you may find it difficult in time to communicate on a higher level. So in a way, being around unintelligent people can affect your own intelligence.
So, if this theory is true, is there anything we can do about it? Most people hate being corrected, so that method is rarely effective. Many undereducated people are that way because they choose not to better themselves. Telling them they’re speaking incorrectly only makes them feel inferior, which causes them to be angry. If you find someone willing to be educated, count yourself as a lucky one.
Since improving others rarely goes well, the only thing you can really do is continue to improve yourself, and be mindful of the errors of others. Every time I hear this person pronounce a word incorrectly or use poor grammar, I correct it inside my own head. I make sure that I do not allow myself to use their speech patterns. By doing this I maintain my own sanity, and I hope that I will be leading by example.
I honestly hope that leading by example will make a difference in those around me, however I doubt it. Some people are beyond help, and are content in their stupidity. The best any of us can do is to either stay away from people who are less intelligent than we are, or if we must be in their presence, do all that we can to not allow their behavior to affect us.
It will take effort on your part to resist the urge to change your speech and grammar to match that of the less intelligent people around you, but it appears to be the only way to keep their lack of intelligence from affecting your own intelligence. It is our own personal responsibility to be the best that we can be, and hope that other people follow suit.