Prejudiced, Conservative People Probably Stupid, Says Science

Illustration for article titled Prejudiced, Conservative People Probably Stupid, Says Science

You've always had an inkling that this might be true, and now here comes Science to validate your gut: children with low IQs tend to grow up to be prejudiced adults who often adopt socially conservative ideologies. The "liberal elite" is not in your imagination, friends. Fox News viewers really are that dumb!


The study, conducted by Brock University in Ontario's Gordon Hodson and published in a recent issue of the Journal of Psychological Science, analyzed data assembled from two separate studies in order to examine the link between cognitive ability and prejudice.

The first study examined two groups of British adults, one born in 1958 and the other born in 1970. Both groups were assessed for intelligence at age 10 or 11, and then a followup was conducted when they were between the ages of 30 and 33. During the initial test, children were asked to complete tasks that tested their abilities to reason and remember. During the followup two decades later, researchers assessed the subjects' level of prejudice and degree of socially conservative views. "Social conservatism" was determined by asking subjects to respond to a series of questions like "Family life suffers if mom is working full time" or "I wouldn't mind working with other races." In this study, children with low scores on the first set of tests tended to grow up to exhibit prejudiced and socially conservative viewpoints on the second set of tests.

As LiveScience's Stephanie Pappas mentions, the questionnaire didn't test for secretly racist thoughts, and thus the more intelligent subjects may still have been prejudiced, but just better at lying about it. The study also found that low intelligence children tended to have fewer encounters with people of other races, and that the lack of contact may have contributed to their prejudiced adult attitudes.

The second study analyzed by the Canadian researchers examined Americans' attitude toward homosexuality. The study found that people with poorer abstract reasoning skills tended to be more homophobic, even when researchers controlled for education level.

The Canadian researchers hypothesize that people who "have trouble grasping the complexity of the world" may tend toward prejudice and conservatism because they crave structure and can't process chaos and nuance. Religion, authoritarianism, and isolationism appeal to a desire for order in a world that offers few absolutes.

Obviously, this doesn't mean that every single liberal is smarter than every single conservative, or that every single conservative was a rubber cement huffing boogereater as a kid. And this doesn't mean that being dumb caused all those people to vote for George W Bush's 2004 reelection (although that may have helped). But this study does provide insight into the link between ideology and intelligence, and it's an interesting new way to make your Tea Partying uncle get really mad at you at the next family gathering.


Not that any of this hoity-toity "science" crap will matter to all the Real Americans posting about "illegals" on your Facebook news feed. But, for now, feel free to bask.

Low IQ & Conservative Beliefs Linked to Prejudice [LiveScience]


Not here anymore

I would rather see it stated like this: People with higher intellectual reasoning capabilities may be more likely to challenge stereotypes, assumptions, traditions and more generally speaking, the status quo, which may in turn produce more complex, liberal social views.

In any event, it sounds a hell of a lot less problematic than dumb people = conservatives.