Skip to main content

Researchers have found a possible explanation for why certain people are prejudiced: they're less intelligent.

Children with lower general intelligence are more likely to become prejudiced as adults, according to a Brock University study.

The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, examined data from two large-scale British studies, and found lower intelligence scores in childhood were predictors of greater racism in adulthood, which the researchers controversially explain is brought about by adopting right-wing ideologies.

Story continues below advertisement

A secondary analysis of data from a U.S. study also showed those with poor abstract-reasoning skills were more likely to have anti-homosexual prejudice, partially linked to authoritarian attitudes.

Lead researcher Gordon Hodson told LiveScience that the results of the study indicate a vicious cycle, in which people with low intelligence are drawn to socially conservative ideologies. In turn, those ideologies can contribute to prejudices.

"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," he said, explaining why those with lower intelligence may gravitate toward the right. "Unfortunately, many of these features can contribute to prejudice."

The researchers found that people with lower intelligence also tended to have less contact with other races and groups, which, Dr. Hodson said, supports previous research that determined interacting with other groups is mentally challenging and cognitively draining.

Dr. Hodson explained the findings do not mean all liberals are smart and all conservatives are stupid, LiveScience.com reports. "There are multiple examples of very bright conservatives and not-so-bright liberals, and many examples of very principled conservatives and very intolerant liberals," he said.

Previous research has suggested that the brains of conservatives and liberals are wired differently.

What do you think? Does intelligence really determine your political stripe? And do your politics determine how prejudiced you are?

Story continues below advertisement

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.