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Study says racists and conservatives are dumb

Published time: February 03, 2012 23:02
Edited time: February 04, 2012 03:03
Ku Klux Klan member. (REUTERS / Adrees Latif)

Ku Klux Klan member. (REUTERS / Adrees Latif)

Next time you call group of right-wing racists a bunch of idiots, you can back yourself up with one simple word: Science!

Researchers from Ontario, Canada’s Brock University have been slaving over test results to come to the conclusion that many not-so-scientifically-inclined have said for ages — both right-wing thinkers and racists alike are kind of dumb.

The conclusion comes after spotting a correlation between children with low IQs and their ideologies later in life. It turns out that those with limited intelligence at a younger age are more likely to exhibit racist tendencies and favor more conservative political thinking as adults.

Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology and primary author of the findings, explains to Live Science that the, well, science of the issue is rather simple.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," explains Dr. Hodson. Structure and order, of course, are much easier to make sense of than, say, disarray and chaos. Given that, the less intelligent will gravitate towards more manageable ideals and, as he says, "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."

The study in its entirely was published this week in the journal Psychological Science, and there Dr. Hodson and Michael A Busseri write that after studying a data set of 15,874 persons from the UK, “we found that lower general intelligence in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology.”

“A secondary analysis of a US 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,” add the researchers.

In summation, they write, "right-wing ideologies, which are socially conservative and authoritarian, represent a mechanism through which cognitive ability is linked with prejudice.

"For example,” add the doctors, “research has revealed that individuals who more strongly endorse social conservatism have greater cognitive rigidity, less cognitive flexibility and lower integrative complexity. Socially conservative individuals also perform less well than liberals on standardized ability tests.”

In smaller words (for all your racists out there), here’s how Dr. Brian Nosek from the University of Virginia explains it to the Huffington Post:

"Reality is complicated and messy . . . Ideologies get rid of the messiness and impose a simpler solution. So, it may not be surprising that people with less cognitive capacity will be attracted to simplifying ideologies."

Of course, the study’s authors note that “all socially conservative people are not prejudiced, and all prejudiced persons are not conservative." We’d like to see their research in full before we go ahead and agree on that one though.

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