Does having a low IQ and being socially conservative make you more likely to be...prejudiced? Yes, according to a head-turning new study.
LiveScience breaks it down:
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.
In the study, researchers used two forms of intelligence tests and a series of statements to measure social conservative attitudes -- statements like "family life suffers if mum is working full-time" and "schools should teach children to obey authority," LiveScience reported. From there, they captured attitudes about race using statements such as "I wouldn't mind working with people from other races." Researchers found a correlation between having a low intelligence in childhood and holding prejudicial attitudes in adulthood, and the relationship linking the two was social conservatism. In a second data set, researchers also found a link between poor abstract reasoning skills and homophobia.
It's important to note that the study refers to social conservatism, not political conservatism, and Hodson pointed out the researchers weren't implying that all liberals are smart and conservatives are dumb.
"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.
Still, that doesn't quite take the sting away, Brian Nosek, a social and cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia not involved in the study, told LiveScience.
"They've pulled off the trifecta of controversial topics," Nosek said. "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."
Regardless, Hodson said it's a reasonable to conclude that a conservative ideology might appeal to those who have "trouble grasping the complexity of the world," according to LiveScience.
"Socially conservative ideologies tend to offer structure and order," Hodson said. "Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice."