Do Racism, Conservatism, and Low I.Q. Go Hand in Hand?
Lower cognitive abilities predict greater prejudice through right-wing ideology.
Posted Apr 22, 2013
However, what struck me most about this image posted above was the Facebook page it came from, “Too Informed to Vote Republican.” I wondered about this, recalling an old journal article I’d come across when studying anti-Islamic attitudes post 9/11. The paper referenced a correlation between conservatism and low intelligence. Uncertain of its origin, I located a thought-provoking article published in one of psychology’s top journals, Psychological Science, which in essence confirms this.
Hodson and Busseri (2012) found in a correlational study that lower intelligence in childhood is predictive of greater racism in adulthood, with this effect being mediated (partially explained) through conservative ideology. They also found poor abstract reasoning skills were related to homophobic attitudes which was mediated through authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact.
What this study and those before it suggest is not necessarily that all liberals are geniuses and all conservatives are ignorant. Rather, it makes conclusions based off of averages of groups. The idea is that for those who lack a cognitive ability to grasp complexities of our world, strict-right wing ideologies may be more appealing. Dr. Brian Nosek explained it for the Huffington Post as follows, “ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simple solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies.” For an excellent continuation of this discussion and past studies, please see this article from LiveScience.
Taken together, what do these studies suggest? Excessive exposure to news coverage could be toxic as is avoidance of open-minded attitudes and ideals. Perhaps turn off the television and pick up a book? Ideally one that exposes you to differing worldviews.
*Please note comments that are offensive, defamatory, discriminatory, racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise inappropriate will be automatically removed by the author’s discretion.
Furguson, M.J. & Hassin, R.R. (2007). On the automatic association between American and aggression for news watchers. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 33, 1632-1647.
Hodson, G. & Busseri, M.A. (2012). Bright minds and dark attitudes: Lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice through right-wing ideology and low intergroup contact. Psychological Science, 23, 187-195.
Follow me on Twitter at MillenialMedia.
Be sure to read the following responses to this post by our bloggers: