A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology reinforced the notion that low IQ, an indicator of intelligence, is linked with prejudice against minority groups but furthered the conversation of prejudice with a surprising find.
Previous studies have confirmed that conservative social beliefs and prejudice against minorities—specifically those that have no control over their status, such as race, gender, or sexual orientation—is linked with having a low IQ. This idea among psychologists was so concrete that some even suggested that researchers should take into account cognitive ability when conducting studies on ideologies and prejudice.
While people with a lower IQ tend to be biased against people with liberal beliefs or minority groups that have no power over their status, researchers in a new study found that prejudice also extends to those with a high IQ but in a different way. Apparently, people with a higher IQ tend to be prejudiced against those with conservative values, such as religious fundamentalists. In a nutshell:
“People dislike people who are different from them,” study authors Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford told Broadly. “Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view.”
Though the researchers put it plainly, there is a bit more to the story when it comes to how prejudice affects those along the IQ spectrum. For example, those with a low IQ typically saw the other groups as being distinctly different from them, making it easier to distance themselves from them and from the problems those groups faced daily.
The difference between the two different types of prejudices is that those with high IQ may find themselves infuriated with groups that can actually change their minds on a particular subject, whereas the groups that low IQ people discriminate against are unable to choose to change their race, gender, nationality, etc.
A study of this nature is one of the first of its kind, likely because prejudices against those with no control over their status are more likely to harm others when it comes to politics and treatment of those groups. While groups on both ends of the IQ spectrum showed the same amount of prejudice towards differing bodies of people, the injustice carried out by prejudice from people with a low IQ tends to be more damaging to communities.
Going forward, it would be ideal if people from all backgrounds and with different intelligence levels could look inwards and see how their beliefs are shaping the state of the world and the lives of others. Rather than practicing ignorance, it’s best if people open themselves up to the ideas that others might have in order to better understand them. Opening up a dialogue with someone that has different views than you is the best way to step into someone else’s shoes and practice compassion and understanding.