If you’ve ever thought your racist neighbor or family member was very dumb, or if you yourself are racist and been worried that you might have a low IQ, you’re most likely correct.
According to an article in Psychology Today, a peer-reviewed study published in the respected journal Psychological Science has found a link between racism, extreme conservatism, and low IQ. The study has received very little media attention thus far, but it is groundbreaking in understanding how racist and extremely conservative ideations are created in an individual.
Low cognitive abilities were found to correlate to not only racism and conservatism, but also homophobia. In the article, author Goal Auzeen Saedi, Ph.D. states:
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.
Other studies in the past have found similar results. In fact, according to an article published in the journal Live Science, research in this area is quite well-established. The earliest known widespread study began in 1958 and spanned over 50 years, with intelligence and racial attitudes being measured in people over time. The researchers found a link between low cognitive ability and racism which seemed to gain the most ground when combined with very conservative political ideology. There was a second large study performed in 1970, and the newest study was published in 2012. All confirm the same results.
In trying to determine what is scientifically accurate, it is important to examine not just one study, but rather the entire body of research that has been performed in a particular field to rule out errant findings. In this case, the link between racism, homophobia, extreme conservatism and low intelligence seems to have been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt.
Another significant factor is that the studies were controlled, which means that other factors that could have affected attitudes and intelligence, such as socioeconomic status and level of education were taken into account and adjusted accordingly. Because of this, their results are considered solid according to peer review. According to an article on Daily Kos:
A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status.
While the findings may upset people right wing, homophobic, racist folks, it’s difficult to ignore such a widespread body of evidence that has been unfolding over the last 50 plus years. Thus far, it does not appear as though any studies have been done which dispute the conclusions of these studies, which also show that a lack of contact with diverse groups may be partially causal in forming racist attitudes, and that racist people may simply be too unintelligent to seek out inter-group contact:
This finding is consistent with recent research demonstrating that inter-group contact is mentally challenging and cognitively draining, and consistent with findings that contact reduces prejudice.
Since the studies also show that having a good amount of contact with different groups of people reduces racist ideology, the best cure for being dumb, homophobic and racist may be exposure to diversity.
So put on your thinking cap, exercise your mind and expand your horizons by reaching out to those different from you. It will make you a more well-rounded person, and invariably smarter, too.
By: Rebecca Savastio
Source: Live Science
Source: Psychology Today
Source: Daily Kos