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Prejudice Linked To Low IQ

Hannah Madans |
January 26, 2012 | 8:43 p.m. PST

Executive Producer

An online IQ test. (courtesy Creative Commons)
An online IQ test. (courtesy Creative Commons)
A study published earlier this year in Psychological Science, found that British children with a lower general intelligence factor, similar to IQ, are more likely to show racial prejudiced as adults.

LiveScience wrote an article on the study Thursday:

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.

"Prejudice is extremely complex and multifaceted, making it critical that any factors contributing to bias are uncovered and understood," he said.

The findings combine three hot-button topics.

"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."

Polling data and social and political science research do show that prejudice is more common in those who hold right-wing ideals that those of other political persuasions, Nosek told LiveScience.

"The unique contribution here is trying to make some progress on the most challenging aspect of this," Nosek said, referring to the new study. "It's not that a relationship like that exists, but why it exists."

Earlier studies have found links between low levels of education and higher levels of prejudice, Hodson said, so studying intelligence seemed a logical next step.

Researchers used studies that tested intelligence in children at 10 or 11 and their levels of social conservatism and racism at age 30 or 33. Low intelligence in childhood corresponded with racism in adulthood.

 

Reach executive producer Hannah Madans here.

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