Yes, racists are less intelligent

Alright, one of those headlines liberals cannot help but love:

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice

Indeed.  To be fair, it is most definitely the combination.  And as the article suggests, low IQ and liberal beliefs probably have some bad effects (though, unlikely to be this unsavory).  But there’s definitely some interesting stuff going on here– and it is backed up by findings we already know, such as the lower cognitive complexity involved in conservative beliefs.  Some highlights:

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…

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,” [emphasis mine] said Hodson, who along with his colleagues published these results online Jan. 5 in the journal Psychological Science.

This last bit would seem to have some interesting implications for diversity in the classroom, i.e., it really is good for you.  It’s also somewhat amusing to me just how far the article goes to assure that these findings don’t mean that liberals are smart and conservatives are dumb.  These are averages– then again, maybe the conservatives reading this need extra help understanding that :-).  Anyway, this certainly is interesting and provocative.  I love this one summary:

“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.”

Okay, back to intelligently liking minorities.

About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State

6 Responses to Yes, racists are less intelligent

  1. Yes but your topic does not deal with black racism against the whites.
    John Wilder

    • Alex says:

      On the contrary, the post makes no mention of black or white, simply discussing the finding that low IQ and prejudice are correlated. There’s no reason to think that such a finding doesn’t apply to all races.

      The last sentence, about “intelligently liking minorities,” refers to Steve, who himself is white, so it would make sense that he would talk about minorities in the context of his own (lack of) prejudice.

  2. I am amazed at how “disinterested” social scientists always get to define conservatism by the wording of their questions.

    I am genuinely curious as to how you might conclude that conservative beliefs are of a “lower cognitive complexity” when hard-thinking folks like Bill Buckley and Thomas Sowell capture the essence of conservatism so well.

  3. Steve Greene says:

    It’s not like there’s a lot of debate on what positions political conservatives hold.

    • Yes I actually clicked on the above link and what I found interesting is the liberal hate speech towards conservatives. Conservatives simply disagree with ideas and rhetoric and policy, liberals resort to ad hominem attacks.

      Your writing illustrates your condascension towards conservatives. I have a genius level IQ okay on the low side of genius 136 but still MENSA qualified and I can’t tell you how many libs insult me and call me stupid, uneducated, ignorant and all other manner of insults because I disagree with their philosophy and rhetoric.

      John Wilder

  4. itchy says:

    Of course, as a smart liberal, I’m initially skeptical of any study that offers a too-convenient conclusion. I’m willing to accept appropriate evidence, but my reaction is the same as the quote you didn’t include:

    “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.”

    Another point you didn’t clarify is that the study does not focus on conservatives who scored high on IQ tests. It’s not saying conservatives are less intelligent; it’s saying lower IQ scores are correlated with right-wing ideology. It doesn’t say anything about the ideology of participants with high IQ scores.

    (And I won’t even get into my low opinion of IQ and what a misused unit of measure it is.)

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