Are social conservatism, prejudice and low IQ related?

They are according to this article.

Scholarly studies have shown that there is a correlation between prejudice of any type from race and ethnicity to gender and religious caused by ignorance, isolation - the absence of cultural diffusion - the environment, and low IQ. One recent study- Gordon Hodson lead psychologist -  emphasizes low intelligence, social conservatism and prejudice.

In the recent scholarly study regarding the correlation between IQ and prejudice, researchers found that right-wing ideas and prejudice commonly appeal to the less educated masses with a low IQ. Therefore, the lower the IQ and lower the ability for abstract thought, the higher the possibility that the individual embraced right ideas and prejudice. Although the study did find empirical evidence for a correlation between social conservatism and low intelligence, it cannot be established that people of higher intelligence with the ability to conceal underlying prejudice are not more hypocritical and less transparent in their views. In short, the higher the education level, the better the ability to articulate a more liberal (tolerant) view that may be hiding prejudice. The empirical evidence of isolated people with a higher propensity toward prejudice is useful, but it is one that has been well established historically, and hardly a revelation.

Here is another article on the topic:

There's no gentle way to put it: People who give in to racism and prejudice may simply be dumb, according to a new study that is bound to stir public controversy.

The research finds that children with low intelligence are more likely to hold prejudiced attitudes as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Gordon Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, the study found. Those ideologies, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes that can contribute to prejudice, Hodson wrote in an email to LiveScience.

Here is an abstract of the article ("Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice through right-win ideology and low intergroup contact.") published in Psychological Science:

Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.

Here is the biography of the researcher:

Gordon Hodson
Professor, Ph.D. (Western)
Office: MC B324
Phone: (905)688-5550 ext.5127
research website

RESEARCH INTERESTS- intergroup relations, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination- personality and individual differences- immigration and intergroup threat- intergroup contact, intergroup friendships, and emotions (e.g., disgust, anxiety, empathy)My primary research interests examine intergroup processes related to prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination. This overall focus can be broken down into several key areas of investigation. First, how has contemporary prejudice transformed itself from overt and direct bias to more subtle and indicrect forms? How can these subtle biases be detected and combated among otherwise well-meaning individuals? Second, to what extent do personality constructs such as authoritarianism and social dominance predict and shape the expression of prejudice and discrimination? Third, how does the perception of intergroup threat posed by immigrants, refugees, and outgroups generally exacerbate negative intergroup outcomes? What social and personal factors trigger intergroup anxiety, and what are its consequences?Most recently, my research addresses the contextual and personality factors involved in the attenuation of intergroup conflict, such as encouraging common ingroup categorization and identification. Specifically, I am testing the benefits of increasing positive intergroup contact and using intergroup friendships to reduce bias in a variety of settings.

I'm not surprised by any of this. Ever since I was a post-graduate Russell Sage fellow for social science writing at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1964, "scholars" have been trying to prove that liberals are smarter than conservatives. The fact that they're still trying to prove the point a half century later possibly indicates that they haven't proven the point, even to their own satisfaction.



Leave a comment
  • There's a common mistake that conservatives make about liberals that I think might apply here: that because one, or a few, liberals say something, often something foolish, that it reflects the belief of the majority of liberals. Rush Limbaugh, for example, makes liberal use of this tactic.

    I haven't read the article, so what I right below are general speculations. There are a number of flaws, in my view as a biologist, of the study of IQ. One is that small differences in IQ are probably not meaningful, given that IQ (or "g") is a blunt measure of intelligence. Large differences--on the order of 20 points, are meaningful. The second is that differences between groups are important. If the variation within a group is large, then, counterintuitively, statistically significant results might not be all that meaningful. I would like to see an ANOVA and find out what percentage of the variation in IQ might be explained by the factors they have chosen.

    My scientific intuition is that this study might suffer from a common flaw--that because a result is statistically significant, that it is important. In all groups, there is a big variation

  • In reply to unicyclegeek:

    I hope the writing "right" rather than "write" won't affect your judgement of my intelligence too severely!

  • Nor will the British spelling of "judgment." Seriously, I appreciate your thoughtful and informative response.

  • In reply to Dennis Byrne:

    Thanks, Dennis.

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