I Moron

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

Live Science – 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.

“Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood,” he said.

Controversy ahead

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

“They’ve pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics,” said Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who was not involved in the study. “When one selects intelligence, political ideology and racism and looks at any of the relationships between those three variables, it’s bound to upset somebody.”

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience. [7 Thoughts That Are Bad For You]

“The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this,” Nosek said, referring to the new study. “It’s not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists.”

Brains and bias

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step. The researchers turned to two studies of citizens in the United Kingdom, one that has followed babies since their births in March 1958, and another that did the same for babies born in April 1970. The children in the studies had their intelligence assessed at age 10 or 11; as adults ages 30 or 33, their levels of social conservatism and racism were measured.

In the first study, verbal and nonverbal intelligence was measured using tests that asked people to find similarities and differences between words, shapes and symbols. The second study measured cognitive abilities in four ways, including number recall, shape-drawing tasks, defining words and identifying patterns and similarities among words. Average IQ is set at 100.

Social conservatives were defined as people who agreed with a laundry list of statements such as “Family life suffers if mum is working full-time,” and “Schools should teach children to obey authority.” Attitudes toward other races were captured by measuring agreement with statements such as “I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races.” (These questions measured overt prejudiced attitudes, but most people, no matter how egalitarian, do hold unconscious racial biases; Hodson’s work can’t speak to this “underground” racism.)

As suspected, low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood. But the factor that explained the relationship between these two variables was political: When researchers included social conservatism in the analysis, those ideologies accounted for much of the link between brains and bias.

People with lower cognitive abilities also had less contact with people of other races.

“This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that intergroup contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice,” said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

A study of averages

Hodson was quick to note that the despite the link found between low intelligence and social conservatism, the researchers aren’t implying that all liberals are brilliant and all conservatives stupid. The research is a study of averages over large groups, he said.

“There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals,” Hodson said.

Nosek gave another example to illustrate the dangers of taking the findings too literally.

“We can say definitively men are taller than women on average,” he said. “But you can’t say if you take a random man and you take a random woman that the man is going to be taller. There’s plenty of overlap.”

Nonetheless, there is reason to believe that strict right-wing ideology might appeal to those who have trouble grasping the complexity of the world.

“Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order,” Hodson said, explaining why these beliefs might draw those with low intelligence. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice.”

In another study, this one in the United States, Hodson and Busseri compared 254 people with the same amount of education but different levels of ability in abstract reasoning. They found that what applies to racism may also apply to homophobia. People who were poorer at abstract reasoning were more likely to exhibit prejudice against gays. As in the U.K. citizens, a lack of contact with gays and more acceptance of right-wing authoritarianism explained the link.

Simple viewpoints

Hodson and Busseri’s explanation of their findings is reasonable, Nosek said, but it is correlational. That means the researchers didn’t conclusively prove that the low intelligence caused the later prejudice. To do that, you’d have to somehow randomly assign otherwise identical people to be smart or dumb, liberal or conservative. Those sorts of studies obviously aren’t possible.

The researchers controlled for factors such as education and socioeconomic status, making their case stronger, Nosek said. But there are other possible explanations that fit the data. For example, Nosek said, a study of left-wing liberals with stereotypically naïve views like “every kid is a genius in his or her own way,” might find that people who hold these attitudes are also less bright. In other words, it might not be a particular ideology that is linked to stupidity, but extremist views in general.

“My speculation is that it’s not as simple as their model presents it,” Nosek said. “I think that lower cognitive capacity can lead to multiple simple ways to represent the world, and one of those can be embodied in a right-wing ideology where ‘People I don’t know are threats’ and ‘The world is a dangerous place’. … Another simple way would be to just assume everybody is wonderful.”

Prejudice is of particular interest because understanding the roots of racism and bias could help eliminate them, Hodson said. For example, he said, many anti-prejudice programs encourage participants to see things from another group’s point of view. That mental exercise may be too taxing for people of low IQ.

“There may be cognitive limits in the ability to take the perspective of others, particularly foreigners,” Hodson said. “Much of the present research literature suggests that our prejudices are primarily emotional in origin rather than cognitive. These two pieces of information suggest that it might be particularly fruitful for researchers to consider strategies to change feelings toward outgroups,” rather than thoughts.


  1. for the life of me, i can’t seem to figure out how much of this research was done, after the conclusions were achieved.
    the UK and the US, huh. let’s do some research that’ll beat up the northern european extraction just for the hell of it.
    just to give msnbc another 22 minute segment.
    by not including asians, does that make the researchers racist?
    by not including ragheads, does that make the researchers racist?
    by not including those on the african continent, does that make the researchers racist?
    don’t go there.

    Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice,

    no mention is made of quality of edumacation. considering the quality of education at most 4 year schools, you could get an advanced degree and still have a low level of education.

  2. Smells like a steaming pile of dog shit. The dems have been saying Republicans are knuckle draggers for years. This kind of falls in place. Next I would expect genetic studies to add to it. You know those redneck Nascar fans must be genetically predisposed to limited cranial capacity. Oh, and the ice is melting. ;-(

  3. I think it’s shocking that in this day and age researchers could target the black community like this. How dare they suggest a linkage between IQ and prejudice? This is going to have a profound impact on the next riot at Chuckie Cheese, casino cafeteria, IHOP, VillagePantry, train station, street corner or black movie premier.

    Obama got 95% of the black vote, but that’s not because they’re stupid. It’s because he really was the best candidate.

    They can’t get away with this!!

  4. PS Chavez has blown up to 3 times Joe DeRita size (radioactive edema) -- still think he’s going to live forever?

    And Chris Christie repeated almost verbatim what I said to Warren Buffett here a few months ago: Shut up and write a check!!

  5. This study’s author also recently published books connecting conservatives to homophobia and Islamophobia. I’d say he’s no stranger to bias himself.

    “Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood,” he said.

    Like with Islamophobia, there’s no tolerance inside academia for the concept that racial prejudice could be based primarily on personal experiences and statistical facts. They look beyond the obvious mountain of evidence to find a nugget that can be shaped to fit into their biased worldview. In their minds there’s no legitimate causes for racism, whereas in the real world we are surrounded by them daily.

    For instance Obama has 95% support of the black community. They wont study the psychology of that, but they will focus on why the majority of whites dont support him. And then only point the finger at one group as being racially motivated.

    Just like civil rights advocates never go back and do any follow up studies on the ramifications of their legislative successes. Yes our schools and communities are now integrated ……. but are they better off than they were before? Are they safer? Have black on white crime rates soared since the civil rights act was passed?

    These are questions only dumb rednecks would ask.

  6. but are they better off than they were before?
    Are they safer?
    Have black on white crime rates soared since the civil rights act was passed?

  7. Liberals such as Pelosi would answer ……..

    Are You Serious!!

    Are You Serious!!

    Are You Serious!!


    That’s when you can see on their grimaced faces that the cogs in their leftist brains are jamming up on answers they know but cant bring themselves to admit.

  8. She looks like the Red Skull’s mom.

    Racial bias and stereotyping only goes one way in academia. This was explained to me by leftists earlier: racism consists of 2 factors, hate and power. And since the black man had no power, his hate was not classified as racism. I haven’t heard any of the geniuses re-visit this explanation since we elected a mullato. They’ll have to parse some other element now, but give them time.

    Violent crime itself has fallen to new lows, but 90% of all interracial crime is black perp/white victim. This could explain why white on black crime gets so much press. It’s like ‘man bites dog’.

  9. If everyone went off of “personal experiences” then that means blacks should be justified to take a huge sh** on whites for the crap they had to go through. You CANNOT go off of personal experiences and judge someone. Always give people a chance, no matter how many times they let you down. No matter how liberal or gay that sounds.

    The study is consistent with they way the muslim extremists in parts of the world think. They go off of “personal experiences” or brain washing news or youtube propaganda videos and see themselves as justified in attacking this country. They are conservative to the core. Severely conservative just like Romney :-P but really. They are pretty closed minded as are some rednecks…

  10. Ya can’t get a grant unless your looking to prove political correctness?

    The dems have been saying Republicans are knuckle draggers for years.

    Did conservatives give the name political correctness to what is going on? If so maybe our knuckles are dragging.

  11. If everyone went off of “personal experiences” then that means blacks should be justified to take a huge sh** on whites for the crap they had to go through.

    If we want to punish the children for the sins of the fathers lotta whites will be in prison but so will most of the Black population.

    When the shit hits the fan Rednecks protect the tribe. No matter what tribe your in you better support your local redneck.

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