Some of the correlations discussed in my previous posts receive further support from a recent study by Hodson and Busseri (2012). The study suggests that people who give in to racism and prejudice may simply have low cognitive functioning. The research also finds that children with low intelligence tend to hold prejudiced views as adults. These findings point to a vicious cycle, according to lead researcher Hodson, a psychologist at Brock University in Ontario. Low-intelligence adults tend to gravitate toward conservative ideologies, which, in turn, stress hierarchy and resistance to change, attitudes fomenting prejudice. Here's the abstract:
Despite their important implications for interpersonal behaviors and relations, cognitive abilities have been largely ignored as explanations of prejudice. We proposed and tested mediation models in which lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice, an effect mediated through the endorsement of right-wing ideologies (social conservatism, right-wing authoritarianism) and low levels of contact with out-groups. In an analysis of two large-scale, nationally representative United Kingdom data sets (N = 15,874), we found that lower general intelligence (g) in childhood predicts greater racism in adulthood, and this effect was largely mediated via conservative ideology. A secondary analysis of a U.S. data set confirmed a predictive effect of poor abstract-reasoning skills on antihomosexual prejudice, a relation partially mediated by both authoritarianism and low levels of intergroup contact. All analyses controlled for education and socioeconomic status. Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice. Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.