Friday, January 27, 2012

Study: Prejudice and conservatism linked to lower intelligence?

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Black and White man

While it’s obvious that prejudicial and regressive ideologies can be espoused by anyone, anywhere, a new study tentatively claims that bigotry and social conservatism tend to be more pronounced in people of statistically lower intelligence:

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.

Now, before anyone jumps the gun in either direction, I’ll point out that this is just one study that purports to discern one small link between overall intelligence and general levels of prejudice. I suspect there may naturally be any number of intervening factors at play, localized cultural viewpoints and religious beliefs being key amongst them. I’d also like to know just where the study’s sample pool comes from. In the end, I’ll leave it to actual experts and statisticians to decide just how reliable these findings are.

But nonetheless, it certainly does seem to mesh with both common sense (think the growing anti-intellectual/anti-“elite” sentiment amongst conservatives of late) and other bits and pieces of research we’ve seen on related matters so far. It also apparently supports similar findings from previous studies, as noted in the article, itself. All in all, it boils down to basic human psychology: People who are less able or privileged in life for one reason or another, especially those stuck in more restrictive or regressive cultures, tend to stick more to their traditional and tribalistic guns, which acts to discourage higher levels of tolerance and open-mindedness for new or different things, including other social groups and minorities. That much, at least, has been established beyond debate.

(via Joe. My. God.)