Photo by Paul Edmondson via Stocksy
According to a new study, people with both high and low intelligence are prejudiced—the difference is just who they are prejudiced against.
Past researchers have found that people of lower cognitive ability are more likely to be prejudiced, but prejudice isn't exclusive to dim bulbs. A new study finds that people at both high and low ends of the intelligence spectrum actually express equal levels of prejudice—the difference is just what they're prejudiced against.
The researchers, social psychologists Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford, analyzed 5,914 subjects in their experiment, "Answering Unresolved Questions About the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice." Removing value judgments about whether a specific prejudice is justified or not, they measured the amount of prejudice present in groups of higher cognitive ability and lower cognitive ability. They gauged the cognitive ability of their subjects using a wordsum test, which is considered to be correlated to an individual's intelligence quotient (IQ). Brandt and Crawford replicated previous findings that people of low cognitive ability tend to be prejudiced against non-conventional or liberal groups, as well as groups that have "low choice" in their status—groups defined by their race or gender or sexual orientation, for example. According to their research, this tendency inverted among people of high cognitive ability. In other words, the smarter subjects in their study were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional or conservative—groups perceived to have "high choice" in their associations."
"People dislike people who are different from them," Brandt and Crawford said in an interview with Broadly. "Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view." In other words, if you see the world one way, you may rely on that perspective, so you might reinforce the idea that you're right by believing other worldviews are wrong.
There was another polarized finding in their study. Brandt and Crawford found that people of low cognitive ability are prejudiced against groups that people didn't choose to be part of, such as ethnic or LGBT groups. This is poignant in 2016, a time when conservative communities across the country are unifying around intolerance of transgender people, Muslim Americans continue to face grotesque prejudice, and police brutality is high.
Brandt and Crawford cited prior research that has shown less cognitively capable people often "essentialize," or see different groups as being distinct from each other, with "clear boundaries."
"Having clear boundaries helps people feel like the opposing group is distinct and far away. That is, they won't be so much of a threat," they said. The researchers pointed to a recent study looking at this boundary phenomenon with respect to Donald Trump's stupid plan to build a big wall along the southern border of the United States—it would create a literal boundary where before only a mental one existed.
The conservatives who support this plan are expressing prejudice towards "low-choice" groups—in this case, Mexicans, who were born Mexican and did not choose to be that. "On the flipside, people high in cognitive ability express more prejudice against high-choice groups," such as conservatives, the researchers said. "They may be especially angered by groups that they think should be able to change their minds."
We asked a professional to share their tips and tricks to perfecting the art of the nude selfie.May 23, 2017
Memed into history, the split-screen face-off between O'Donnell and conservative pundit Elisabeth Hasselbeck over the Iraq War captures a time when it wasn't trendy for celebrities to oppose the President.May 23, 2017
On the first page of his new budget proposal, Donald Trump has both named Planned Parenthood and called for its absolute defunding—among other cuts that disproportionally affect low income women.May 23, 2017
But Rachel seemed to like it?May 23, 2017
Marlene Dietrich was a German-born, anti-fascist screen siren who still captivates audiences 25 years after her death.May 23, 2017
In the United States, state-level legislation are being used to prosecute pregnant women who use drugs—violating their civil rights and making it impossible for them to get the help they need.May 23, 2017
Dublin graphic designer Linda Kavanagh has raised over 2,000 euros for a pro-choice charity through the power of Keanu Reeves memes.May 23, 2017
Followers of the controversial diet believe that humans can survive on cosmic energy from air. Doctors and dietitians beg to differ.May 23, 2017
In a landmark case, lawyers are claiming religious freedom to defend doctors facing charges for performing FGM on seven-year-olds in Michigan.May 22, 2017
"I am indeed a victim... of a society and health care system."May 22, 2017