Preferential flow that leads to non-uniform displacement, especially in heterogeneous porous media, is usually unwelcome in most practical processes. We propose a self-adaptive preferential flow control mechanism by using dispersed polymers, which is supported strongly by experimental and numerical evidence. Our experiments are performed on a microchip with heterogeneous porous structures where oil is displaced by dispersed polymer microsphere particles. Even though the size of the particles is much smaller than the pore-throat size, the diversion effect by the dispersed microspheres is still proved. Therefore, the plugging effect is not the major mechanism for preferential flow control by dispersed polymers. The mechanisms are further investigated by pore-scale modelling, which indicates that the dispersed polymers exhibit an adaption ability to pressure and resistance in the porous flow field. In such an intelligent way, the displacing fluid with dispersed polymers smartly controls the preferential flow by inducing pressure fluctuations, and demonstrates better performance in both efficiency and economic aspects than the traditional method by simply increasing the viscosity. These insights can be applied to improve techniques in the field, such as enhanced oil recovery and soil wetting.