Is Prejudice Linked To Intelligence And How Does It Impact Upon Dorset?

 A recently published article by psychologists in Canada suggests that a low IQ can account for higher levels of prejudice and a tendency to be socially more conservative. Conservative beliefs and prejudice.

The study which looked at two groups of children born in England in 1958 and 1970 also concluded with a number of other findings. They found that: children with a low intelligence corresponded with racist attitudes in adulthood; people with lower cognitive abilities tended to have less contact with people from other racial backgrounds; that right wing ideology is attractive to those who struggle to grasp the complexities of the world; socially conservative people tend to prefer structure and order; that those who are racist are also more likely to be homophobic and that those with lower cognitive abilities are less able to empathise with other peoples points of view. 

The research though does not conclude that all those on the right are intellectually and emotionally less able and that all those who are on the left and liberal are bright and smart. The conclusions were drawn from studying averages and interestingly found that those who held extreme views, no matter their politics, were more likely to be underdeveloped cognitively and emotionally.

Food for thought yes but I have always been more than sceptical about IQ testing and intelligence more generally. Both are socially constructed by those who want it to work and make sense. I know people who are members of Mensa (an organisation in which members apparently reflect an IQ in the top two percentiles) who although they may be able to solve certain puzzles they are often lacking in knowledge and awareness about the world they live in. In fact a new calculation for measuring intelligence is now gradually being adopted that includes a much greater understanding of the workings of the brain and appears to render Mensa’s measurement redundant (unless you are a member of Mensa that is!).

I prefer to incorporate a much more contemporary understanding of intelligence if we are to do it at all. Creativity and emotional intelligence play a majority part in the new standard being embraced and helps us to test the study above more conclusively. We should also add to this personality types. Whether it is a dogmatic personality at one end of the scale or a flexible personality at the other it is important to understand the implications. Those who are dogmatic can be racist or non racist. Once they have acquired a position it is very hard to change them. Thus a person with racist attitudes will tend to hang on to this point of view. The position itself may well be closely linked to lower levels of intelligence, especially of the emotional kind. A person with a flexible personality is more likely to go with the flow. It just depends upon which or whose flow they are following.

So what about Dorset? Is it hard to imagine that it is any different to other parts of the country or world? Well one of the ways we can tell is the politics of people. This county has a majority Conservative vote at this time. This suggests that the majority, but by no means all, of the county is socially conservative. According to the above research it is also inclined to have a lower intelligence (both cognitively and emotionally) and a significant number of flexible personality types who have gone with a particular brand or flow. For what it is worth I mix with people of all ages and I would conclude that there are many people who will confront racism and other forms of prejudice whenever they find it but there are also far too many who are comfortable not to and in some cases reinforce it. Are they all socially conservative and right wing then? No! But almost all are.

Douglas James