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– Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact
Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. 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. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.
– Cognitive ability, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation: a five-year longitudinal study amongst adolescents
We report longitudinal data in which we assessed the relationships between intelligence and support for two constructs that shape ideological frameworks, namely, right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) and social dominance orientation (SDO). Participants (N = 375) were assessed in Grade 7 and again in Grade 12. Verbal and numerical ability were assessed when students entered high school in Grade 7. RWA and SDO were assessed before school graduation in Grade 12. After controlling for the possible confounding effects of personality and religious values in Grade 12, RWA was predicted by low g (β = -.16) and low verbal intelligence (β = -.18). SDO was predicted by low verbal intelligence only (β = -.13). These results are discussed with reference to the role of verbal intelligence in predicting support for such ideological frameworks and some comments are offered regarding the cognitive distinctions between RWA and SDO.
– Conservatism and cognitive ability
Conservatism and cognitive ability are negatively correlated. The evidence is based on 1254 community college students and 1600 foreign students seeking entry to United States' universities. At the individual level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with SAT, Vocabulary, and Analogy test scores. At the national level of analysis, conservatism scores correlate negatively with measures of education (e.g., gross enrollment at primary, secondary, and tertiary levels) and performance on mathematics and reading assessments from the PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) project. They also correlate with components of the Failed States Index and several other measures of economic and political development of nations. Conservatism scores have higher correlations with economic and political measures than estimated IQ scores.