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Is My Kid a Nerd? Psychologists Have a Scientific Answer for Parents.

The psychometric test in question is called The Nerdy Personality Attributes Scale and it was developed to objectively quantify nerdiness.

If you find yourself at Comic-Con holding hands with your bespectacled, Bill Nye-loving pre-teen while she chats away in fluent Klingon, you may have a nerd on your hands. And, let’s face it, there are worse things. You may even get out of paying for college. But your kid might suffer for her nerdy proclivities as well. Kids aren’t getting stuffed into lockers at quite the same rate they used to, but children with esoteric interests and quick minds often find themselves ostracized. All the more reason to keep a close eye on your spawn’s nerd-dom. And the more reason to have them take the nerd test. 

Yes, there’s a real test. Yes, it’s legit. Yes, it’s weird that it exists.

The psychometric test in question is called The Nerdy Personality Attributes Scale and it was developed to objectively quantify nerdiness. (We assume the scientists who designed the scale scored very, very high.) Since “nerd” is essentially an objective social label, designing the test involved surveying a very large pool of nerds and asking them which personality attributes they possess. In other words, the scale can estimate how similar your child’s personality is to that of the average person who identifies as a nerd. It’s shockingly instructive.

Meet The Nerdy Personality Attributes Scale

Ask your child to answer the following 26 questions with either Disagree (1), Neutral (3), or Agree (5). The average score is 50. Any higher than that—and your kid might just be a nerd.

  1. I like to play RPGs. (Ex. D&D)
  2. I was in advanced classes.
  3. I am interested in science.
  4. I like science fiction.
  5. I spend more time at the library than any other public place.
  6. I am more comfortable with my hobbies than I am with other people.
  7. I have started writing a novel.
  8. I love to read challenging material.
  9. I sometimes prefer fictional people to real ones.
  10. I can be socially awkward at times.
  11. I was a very odd child.
  12. I would describe my smarts as bookish.
  13. I watch science related shows.
  14. I get excited about my ideas and research.
  15. I like to read technology news reports.
  16. I prefer academic success to social success.
  17. I am a strange person.
  18. I gravitate towards introspection.
  19. I collect books.
  20. I enjoy learning more than I need to.
  21. I have played a lot of video games.
  22. I care about super heroes.
  23. I would rather read a book than go to a party.
  24. My appearance is not as important as my intelligence.
  25. I am more comfortable interacting online than in person.
  26. I spend recreational time researching topics others might find dry or overly rigorous

Well, We Have A Nerd. Now What?

First, rejoice. Some of the greatest minds (not to mention billionaires) of this generation would’ve scored pretty darn high on the Nerdiness Scale, too. But with great nerdiness comes great responsibility. Because of your child’s nerdy dispositions, studies suggest he or she may be more likely to be bullied. In small doses, a little ribbing isn’t worth worrying about. But if the bullying becomes sustained and starts affecting your child’s emotional health, you may have to intervene. Besides speaking to teachers and adults who can control potential bullies, experts suggest promoting positive body language in order to make your child a less inviting target, and coaching your kid to walk away from confrontation and rehearse appropriate responses.

There are also studies that suggest some natural-born nerds—especially young women—intentionally underperform in school so as not to be perceived as nerdy. It would be a tragedy to see your math whiz flunk calculus due to social pressures, so make sure to reinforce the nerdiness at home. There’s nothing uncool about a free ride to college. Right, dad?