March 22, 2012

Rindermann: Who has highest IQ: left, right, or center?

In the U.S., people who are strongly liberal or strongly conservative tend to be better educated and better informed than moderates. Sure, some moderates are moderate because they understand each sides' arguments perfectly, but many are moderate because they aren't very interested in politics.

But, what happens when you disentangle the effects of IQ and education from each other?

Heiner Rindermann, the German psychologist who has been doing a lot of interesting IQ work, has co-authored a new paper comparing IQ to ideology among Brazilians, after adjusting for other factors. (I don't enough about politics in Brazil to say how well this would map to the U.S.)
Rindermann, H., Flores-Mendoza, C. & Woodley, M. A. (2012). Political orientations, intelligence and education. Intelligence, 40(2), 217-225. 
Highlights:
• Intelligence is an attribute of a “burgher” worldview and lifestyle.
• Intelligence works via insight, self-interest, and ethical and cultural effects.
• Intelligence had a positive impact on having a political opinion.
• Intelligence had a positive impact on political centrality.
• Education promoted orientations more to the left. 
Abstract:
The social sciences have traditionally assumed that education is a major determinant of citizens’ political orientations and behavior. Several studies have also shown that intelligence has an impact. According to a theory that conceptualizes intelligence as a burgher (middle-class, civil) phenomenon – intelligence should promote civil attitudes, habits and norms like diligence, order and liberty, which in turn nurture cognitive development – political orientations should be related to intelligence, with more intelligent individuals tending towards less extreme political orientations. In a Brazilian sample (N=586), individuals were given the Standard Progressive Matrices (SPM) and a questionnaire measuring age, sex/gender, income, education and political orientations. Firstly, intelligence has a positive impact on having any political opinion. Among persons with opinions those with the highest IQ’s were found to be politically center-right and centrist respectively. The relationship held after correcting for gender, age, education and income. In a path-analysis, only intelligence had a positive impact on political centrality, whereas education promoted orientations that were farther from the center. These results are discussed in the context of results from other studies in different countries and in the context of different theoretical models on the relationship between political attitudes and IQ.


So, at a given level of IQ, more education pushes people either to the left or, less often, toward the right. At a given level of education, more IQ pushes people toward a point a little right of center.  At least in Brazil ...

49 comments:

Peter A said...

I think that makes sense. My general impression is that stupid people tend to be conservative - but just reflexively conservative. Since they tend to be stupid they don't understand or trust change, they are fearful of strangers, etc. Their ideology is basically based on instinct. More educated people of medium IQ, or people of high IQ with specialized academic knowledge then tend to be liberal or libertarian. They see how ignorant the stupid people are, and on that basis almost reflexively choose policies that will be "better" for the stupid people. Very smart people, especially very smart people with a good education, go back to conservative again because they see the way the world actually works, and understand that the social structures the stupid people have created over centuries are time tested, fit human nature and tend to work much better in real life than whatever innovations the smart liberals want to introduce.

Anonymous said...

Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal?

There might be something there.

Antioco Dascalon said...

Why do you suppose more intelligent people tend to become more conservative? There might be something there.
Whenever liberals point out that conservatives are far less educated and intelligent than liberals, I love pointing out to them how they completely ignore minorities in their generalization, as if hispanic and black Democrats don't exist! As you say, this is all a status game and only whites are allowed to play (with some subbing in by Jews and Asians). We will conveniently ignore the fact that Black (Democrats) are more religious than average, more "homophobic" than average, etc since these are embarrassing facts.
BTW, have you seen this video? By the description of a person disrupting a university lecture on evolution, I was bracing myself to face the onslaught of GOP is "anti-science" stuff. But, since the perp is black and female, that is not relevant: http://dailycaller.com/2012/03/22/how-not-to-get-an-a/

Simon in London said...

"intelligence had a positive impact on political centrality, whereas education promoted orientations that were farther from the center."

As an academic, this sounds very plausible to me. Intelligence promotes good sense and longer time horizons, typically promoting a burgher/bourgeois pro-civilisation world view. Education systems however are controlled by leftist radicals, who attempt to promote an anti-bourgeois, anti-civilisation world view.

For the very intelligent but well indoctrinated such as typical Harvard graduates, this creates the inconsistent behaviour that Sailer has often noted - bourgeois private behaviour (marriage, low divorce rates, little drug use, seeking good schools & safe environment for their children) combined with public obeisance to Leftist anti-civilisation political ideology.

IME the somewhat less intelligent either
(a) fail to be indoctrinated, ignoring or not understanding the indoctrination, or
(b) Are fully indoctrinated and become part of the hatchet faced 'lumpen intelligentsia' who enforce the regime's political ideology.

Some highly intelligent people fail to be indoctrinated, usually preferring to ignore the Leftist ideology rather than oppose it. They tend to be in areas such as the hard sciences, business Law, and commerce, where they can cleave to an older, once-dominant classical-Liberal ideology that is compatible with bourgeois values. That was me up until about 8 years ago.

Next, some highly intelligent, well educated people may use Traditionalist religious values to deflect Left-indoctrination. These seem to be mostly Catholic, in my experience.

There may be a few other people like me who have no religious belief yet reject Leftism, think classical-Liberalism is highly flawed, and think the (Anglosphere) Traditionalists are broadly right on the arguments. If so I don't think I've met any, though.

Simon in London said...

Peter A:
"Very smart people, especially very smart people with a good education, go back to conservative again because they see the way the world actually works, and understand that the social structures the stupid people have created over centuries are time tested, fit human nature and tend to work much better in real life than whatever innovations the smart liberals want to introduce."

While this describes my own views well, how common is this, really? Don't most 'very smart people with a good education' actually publically espouse Left-Liberal views, while behaving conservatively in their private lives? That would seem to be the rational optimal choice for good career advancement combined with a good family life.

Steve Sailer said...

Robert Conquest said, "“Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.”

Rohan Swee said...

Simon in London: There may be a few other people like me who have no religious belief yet reject Leftism, think classical-Liberalism is highly flawed, and think the (Anglosphere) Traditionalists are broadly right on the arguments. If so I don't think I've met any, though.

There are at least two of us.

William B said...

There's no way determine if correlation is causation with education unless you keep measuring their conservatism at every step of the educational language.

These results here could easily mean that the type of person who tends to want to spend more years in school rather than get out into the workforce is, all other things equal, the type of person who is also more liberal.

It could also indicate not that increases in knowledge and the development of thinking skills make you more liberal but that schools everywhere are liberal propaganda mills and that several more years of exposure to said propaganda makes you more likely to believe it.

None of this would discredit liberalism but it's not exactly as flattering to the Left's intellectual merit as the conclusion that "education" (defined as actual learning) "makes" you more liberal.

On the other hand, I don't actually see a corresponding problem on the IQ side because IQ is not a choice (unless you beat yourself with a hammer to get dumber). Thus, if the study is sound, it would seem that being smarter makes you more likely to hold views that Brazilians consider conservative.

Of course I am conservative, so I may be biased.

morleysafer said...

"education was a significant positive predictor of the development of ‘eccentric’ leftist political orientations amongst the sample" -- this is the "sun, milk, red meat" theory, right? Exercise of the option to pursue advanced degrees can be just an epiphenomenon of a left-winger's chosen lifestyle but it'll be said ten thousand times between now & November how the Ph.Ds can't get enough of Obama.

SFG said...

I think it's not just about IQ. Personality plays a role too. I knew quite a few very bright people who were practical in orientation, uninterested in ideas...and they all became Republicans and were successful in business. Obviously the more successful you are the more you're going to like the free market system... There are a lot of bright people who don't have business minds (either numerically or socially) and tend to resent those who do.

I'd also like to add that just because smarter people tend to hold a view doesn't make it right--often times they don't understand how badly the lower classes will get screwed by permissiveness, while lower-class people who actually live with those people can see where cultural permissiveness is headed.

My general schema was that education drives you left but income drives you right, but education increases income so the effects are difficult to disentangele. (I think Karl Rove said as much.)

spacehabitats said...

This would all have more meaning if anyone actually knew what "left", "right", and "center" meant. The whole conservative versus liberal paradigm is riddled with ideological booby traps. It all becomes as ridiculous as deciding whether you are a "Republican", and believe that the U.S. has the responsibility to fight to the death to preserve Israel's right to behave like a spoiled two year old; OR a "Democrat", and believe we should bankrupt our country making sure that Americans of sub-Saharan descent are proportionately represented in fields like neurosurgery and astrophysics. Hmmmm, I wonder which one a smart person would choose? Or should a smart person choose to be a "moderate" and believe that we should only wage limited wars defending Israel and only support affirmative action for firefighters? Yeah, I'm sure that's the ticket.

Anonymous said...

My question would be what constitutes a Brazilian conservative? A strong army, free-market worshiping corporate citizen? A decentralized-government, closed-borders small-town idealist? A Santorum-like Christian culture warrior? None of the above? All of those fall under the conservative rubric in the US. Not knowing much about Brazil's political culture it's hard to tell what left and right mean.

Anonymous said...

Age matters.

Anonymous said...

"My general impression is that stupid people tend to be conservative - but just reflexively conservative."

My impression is that, at least in this country, stupid young people under 35 tend to be liberal.

Because of mass communications, HW, sports, etc., young people associated liberal attitudes with libertarian attitudes and those are considered cool.

Actually, much of America is really just about being cool, and it's not actually confined to the young, now that I think about it. What a stupid concept is "cool." It's a substitute for actual substance.

Anonymous said...

Robert Conquest said, "“Everyone is conservative about what he knows best.”

So true, for what he knows best, he appreciates, and what he appreciates he wishes to conserve, or at bare minimum, to modify ever so slowly and lovingly.

Mark said...

"Liberal" and "conservative" are such vague nebulous terms. For example, I once knew a woman who was a high school dropout and probably had a low IQ. When I explained Marxist economics once to her, she agreed completely with it and thought it was a good idea. At the same time, though, she was very religious and didn't believe in abortion, gay marriage or any other liberal social views. How would you classify someone like that: liberal or conservative? I think there are quite a few people like that. If you put them in the liberal category, then that would lower the average liberal IQ but if you put them in the conservative category then it would be just the opposite, right?

Anonymous said...

Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal? There might be something there.

Here at iSteve, we usually call it "neo-feudalism".

[Or at least that's what it's called by the folks who can wiggle their way past Komment Kontrol - I imagine that there is a great deal of coarser language which ends up on the cutting room floor.]

Morgan C said...

I wonder how many highly educated people would espouse Left-liberal views if their public views had significant impacts on policy. Well-educated people who feel strong social inducements publicly to hold liberal views might feel an even stronger push to espouse conservative views if they believed doing so would directly make them take home 30% more income each year.

I would love to see a study in which the political positions of Left-liberal participants are studied in democracies of various sizes. I suspect that at local levels, and in tiny democracies like this , better-educated people tend publicly to profess more conservative views. While self-interest in large democracies may lead people to advocate for nobless obliege policies -- knowing that such policies will have little actual impact, but will make them appear charitably disposed -- in smaller democracies, I suspect the incentives change.

Anonymous said...

BTW, here is a classic [and classically concise little] Derb-ism on neo-feudalism [and it also touches on the attendant iniquity of neo-legalism].

Morgan C said...

Following up my previous comment, a Google search has just informed me that in the world's smallest democracy, the community leaders have a history of behaving like irresponsible hedonists, wantonly having sex with young teenagers.

Maybe the lesson is that when people are the actual masters of their destiny (the islanders believed they were sovereign, and could therefore rape kids without being subject to British justice), they are willing to sacrifice their good public image in order to satisfy their basest desires.

From Wikipedia:

"A study of island records confirmed anecdotal evidence that most girls had their first child between the ages of 12 and 15.... Tosen [a pastor who was uncomfortable with middle-age men having sex with young teens] tried to bring the matter before the Island Council (the legislative body which doubles as the island's court), but was rebuffed, with one Councillor telling him, 'Look, the age of consent has always been twelve and it doesn't hurt them.'"

Kylie said...

"Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal?"

Because for the last few decades, education=leftist indoctrination.

"There might be something there."

There is. See my first reply.

Ed said...

One caveat. The political spectrum in the U.S. matches up really poorly with most other places, and this is true of the political spectrum of Brazil as well. Its something to do with big, continental sized countries that were developed through colonization and are separated by oceans or difficult terrain from most of the rest of the world. And the political spectrum of the U.S. and Brazil match up poorly with each other.

This is a longwided way of saying that you can't take a study looking at the effect of IQ on the political views of Brazilians, and draw conclusions about how things work in the U.S., or really anywhere else.

Also, one thing about the U.S. spectrum today is that it skews really far right, so people considered to be on the right in Brazil would be considered to be on the left in the U.S. In Latin America, parties calling themselves "social democrat' and "liberal" are usually the right-wing parties.

Portuguese is not that different from English, but I've noticed in academic/ intellectual books and papers published in Brazil a degree of jargon and flowery, vague language that outpaces even our equivalents.

That said, Peter A. makes some good points.

Catperson said...

I feel like the conservative party is paying smart people to be republicans (cutting taxes on the rich) and the democrats are paying dumb people to be democrats (providing welfare fir the poor, affirmative action etc), so I think you have to compare only racially and economically homogenous people to see which party is smarter.

I think liberals are probably smarter because conservative ideology tends to be more psychopathic, bigoted, and religious, but I'm surprised by the results of this study. Perhaps smart people think differently in Brazil because there's less Jewish influence on the elite.

jody said...

i suppose it depends on what "liberal" and "conservative" or "left" and "right" mean in brazil. unless i didn't understand the study and rindermann tried to establish some kind of cross-national standard or control for those categories.

Anonymous said...

In America, both Republicans and Democrats are more intelligent than moderates and independents. But Republicans are more intelligent than Democrats.

Anonymous said...

The Inductivist looked at the GSS vocabulary scores of McCain voters, Obama voters, and self-described "moderates, with the following results.


McCain 102.28
Obama 100.06
Moderates 97.72

Beecher Asbury said...

PC orthodoxy is the reigning mindset and therefore, people who wish to be successful will either drink it up or at least publicly support it so as not to rock the boat and harm their careers. This would obviously include intelligent people as they are the ones who would have the most opportunity to pursue respectable careers and they'd have the brains to realize you cannot get ahead if you go against the grain.

I would imagine in Germany in the 1930s these people did the same with Nazism. Your career path would not be too promising if you opposed it.

I would imagine in the USSR these people did the same with communism.

The list could go on. Whatever the reigning ideology is, the smart people are going to either accept it or go along in order to get ahead.

Just because liberalism is the reigning dogma today doesn't mean that smart people are naturally liberal. It just means smart people know how the game is played.

josh said...

"I know that most men,including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity,can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues...have proudly taught to others,and which they have woven,thread by thread,into the fabric of their lives." ---Soupy Sales,1953.

Marc B said...

I'm willing to accept the idea that white liberals may have higher IQ's than white conservatives (abstract thought is required for most positions taken by post-modern liberals). But I can also guarantee conservatives are smarter regarding issues regarding sociatal stability and survival.

Liberals also tend to overly intellectualize everything. They go so far as to wonder aloud if they should even like something, and that something is what other "evolved" people may consider base, fascistic, misanthropic, or overtly prole. A fellow traditionalist and I used to joke that our bright classmates were having their intelligence taught right out of them.

Anonymous said...

"My general impression is that stupid people tend to be conservative - but just reflexively conservative."

Lowest IQ group in the US iiiiis...

...blacks.

Your impression is wrong. Hey, maybe YOU'RE low IQ.

Mondragon said...

Antioco Dascalon: "They see how ignorant the stupid people are, and on that basis almost reflexively choose policies that will be "better" for the stupid people."

No, on that basis they reflexively choose policies that will signal to others that they are not part of "the stupid people".

helene edwards said...

There may be a few other people like me who have no religious belief yet reject Leftism, think classical-Liberalism is highly flawed, and think the (Anglosphere) Traditionalists are broadly right on the arguments.

I actually think that most people who reject the current version of liberalism (the New Left) are non-religious. The best argument for the stupidity of doctrainaire libs might their insistence that southern evangelicals are the representative conservatives. In reality they're a small slice. These days a conservative is just someone who wants to tell the truth, while post -1980 liberalism is committed to squelching that instinct.

Paul Mendez said...

I think you need to be careful about how you define "conservative" and also keep in mind that only Anglo-Saxons seem to have a firm grasp on the personal liberty/responsibility balance that goes into running a Constitutional Republic.

Latin "Conservatives" are usually reactionary conservatives in the original sense of the word. Think Franco -- unthinkingly conserving the existing social order just because it's the way things have always been.

Anglo-Saxon "Conservatives" were called "Liberals" 250 years ago. Think John Locke, Thomas Jefferson.

Today's "Liberals" are various forms of socialist/communist/communitarian.

My opinion is that the Classic Conservatives may not be intelligent. But the "liberal" of today, who thinks that the welfare state can actually work, can't be that much brighter. What we call "conservatives" today are closer to Classic Liberals and are probably the smartest of all.

Paul Mendez said...

Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal?

The higher education system is controlled by liberals. To simply survive, much less thrive, in the higher education system one must fit into and be accepted by people of power in this liberal environment.

Philip Neal said...

In most industrial countries, the left wing party has a primary constituency of manual workers and the right wing party one of better paid, white collar workers. Why would conservative views not correlate with higher intelligence and education?

Simon in London said...

Paul Mendez:
"Latin "Conservatives" are usually reactionary conservatives in the original sense of the word. Think Franco -- unthinkingly conserving the existing social order just because it's the way things have always been."

I'd say Franco was among the most successful political leaders of the 20th century. He took a backward, primitive country, kept it out of the control of either Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, or the USA, kept it out of both WW2 and (effectively) the Cold War, successfully industrialised it, and left it to a restored monarchy.

Charlesz Martel said...

Three.

Hell_Is_Like_Newark said...

I would like to see such a study expanded to personality type. Do introverts, who are more immune to pear pressure and the need for group acceptance, would they tend to be more conservative?

Anonymous said...

All you, IQ enthusiasts, have to check "the meaning of MPH" videos on Youtube. There are now too many of them to list. Get out of your Murray-escue bubble and check out the real world outside.

morleysafer said...

Divvying up the sample by educational attainment is like observing the Washingtonpost.com article comments, noticing they are way out brazenly left-wing in comparison to similar (biggest 10 circ) U.S. papers' sites, and then wondering whether WP.com is somehow creating or just attracting left-wing commenters. It doesn't have to be a selection effect either. Certainly the quality is partly determined by whichever portals feed into it just as a specific milieu is more likely to feed the "stricto sensu" grad schools of Brazil.

Simon in London said...

I said:
"Simon in London: There may be a few other people like me who have no religious belief yet reject Leftism, think classical-Liberalism is highly flawed, and think the (Anglosphere) Traditionalists are broadly right on the arguments. If so I don't think I've met any, though."

Rohan Swee said:
"There are at least two of us."

Hm, on reflection there may well be thirty of us - all of whom read Steve Sailer's blog! :)

Simon in London said...

Anon:
"Actually, much of America is really just about being cool, and it's not actually confined to the young, now that I think about it. What a stupid concept is "cool." It's a substitute for actual substance."

I got a laugh from my undergraduates when I commentes sardonically on the Hipster T-shirts on sale in Soho. I rather got the impression they really disliked 'cool', at least when taken to the Hipster extreme.

Sailer has said a bit about modern youth being more authoritarian than previously. I think they also seem more communitarian and conservative, at least the ones I see. But the big proviso is that my typical student is (a) south-Asian female, and (b) not from the UK's ruling elite. I get the impression that the elites, including probably elite youth, remain much more attached to Liberalism than is the bulk of the population.

The witterings of the young elite journalists in the Evening Standard, with names like Richard Godwin and Rosamund Unwin, are very much in the mindlessly left-liberal/libertarian, self-absorbed tradition of the '60s revolution. Albeit there's none of the hatred of white Christians you get from many New York Jewish writers.

Simon in London said...

Lots of American commenters posting "What does conservative even mean, anyway?" type comments.

Yes, that's why I'm always careful to distinguish classical-liberal (Lockean) views from conservative (Burkean) views.

I take it that conservatives are people who like conserving stuff, except possibly entrenched revolutionary regimes - if there's a revolutionary regime in power the conservatives become 'reactionaries' and try to turn the clock back.

Obviously US Republican Party and UK Conservative Party are much more classical-liberal than actual conservative. They may also tend towards left-liberalism in some areas: over black-white race relations, and in the UK now over gender and sexuality.

Svigor said...

Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal?

There might be something there.


You ever seen The Manchurian Candidate (the first one - not sure if the remake makes the same point)?

Svigor said...

PC orthodoxy is the reigning mindset and therefore, people who wish to be successful will either drink it up or at least publicly support it so as not to rock the boat and harm their careers. This would obviously include intelligent people as they are the ones who would have the most opportunity to pursue respectable careers and they'd have the brains to realize you cannot get ahead if you go against the grain.

I would imagine in Germany in the 1930s these people did the same with Nazism. Your career path would not be too promising if you opposed it.

I would imagine in the USSR these people did the same with communism.

The list could go on. Whatever the reigning ideology is, the smart people are going to either accept it or go along in order to get ahead.

Just because liberalism is the reigning dogma today doesn't mean that smart people are naturally liberal. It just means smart people know how the game is played.


I don't see any need to bring the obvious into this.

Matthew said...

Why do you suppose more better educated people tend to become more liberal? There might be something there.

Perhaps, but I suspect the meaning will never be teased out by one who writes phrases like "more better educated people."

Education teaches you to ignore the multiple variables affecting an issue and to focus on only one or two. Sometimes this tactic is useful, sometimes (especially with regard to social policy, which can't be researched effectively in a lab) it is not.

Liberals are also driven to pursue an education out of a desire to avoid hard labor. They don't think they should have to do hard labor, nor should anyone else. Which is the irony of an ideology which purports to care about the hard-pressed.

Anonymous said...

it depends on terms. The important question is what do higher IQ ppl tend to think about immigration? Are the smart ppl just PC out of self intrest?

Dahinda said...

Some people are just really well misinformed.

Anonymous said...

I am brazilian and i m a right winger. Theres no conservative party in brazil but there are right wing voters that are left with very few options to choose... Its a tragic situation for conservatives in brazil. As a whole they are a little less conservative than americans i think. But speaking for myself im very conservative and yes i feel much more inteligent than the average brazilian...