Controversial study says right-wingers tend to be less intelligent than left-wingers


Golly gee folks, it looks like we right-wingers aren’t so clever after all. Conservative views about equality and one-law-for-all, our patriotism, our belief in personal responsibility and our respect for authority, can be a gateway to prejudice, Canadian academics claim.

Right-wingers tend to be less intelligent than left-wingers, and people with low childhood intelligence tend to  you grow up to have racist and anti-gay views, says a controversial new study.

Conservative politics work almost as a ‘gateway’ into prejudice against others, say the Canadian academics.

The paper analysed large UK studies which compared childhood intelligence with political views in adulthood across more than 15,000 people.

The authors claim that people with low intelligence gravitate towards right-wing views because they make them feel safe.

…Crucially, people’s educational level is not what determines whether they are racist or not – it’s innate intelligence, according to the academics.

Social status also appears to play no part.

The study, published in Psychological Science claims that right-wing ideology forms a ‘pathway’ for people with low reasoning ability to become prejudiced against groups such as other races and gay people.


Left-wingers tend to be more open-minded says the survey:

‘Cognitive abilities are critical in forming impressions of other people and in being open minded,’ say the researchers.

‘Individuals with lower cognitive abilities may gravitate towards more socially conservative right-wing ideologies that maintain the status quo.

‘It provides a sense of order.’

The study, by academics at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, used information from two UK studies from 1958 and 1970 , where several thousand children were assessed for intelligence at age 10 and 11, and then asked political questions aged 33.

The 1958 National Child Development involved 4,267 men and 4,537 women born in 1958.

The British Cohort Study involved 3,412 men and 3,658 women born in 1970.

It’s the first time the data from these studies has been used in this way.

In adulthood, the children were asked whether they agreed with statements such as, ‘I wouldn’t mind working with people from other races,’ and ‘I wouldn’t mind if a family of a different race moved next door.’

They were also asked whether they agreed with statements about typically right-wing and socially conservative politics such as, ‘Give law breakers stiffer sentences,’ and ‘Schools should teach children to obey authority.’

The researchers also compared their results against a 1986 American study which included tests of cognitive ability and questions assessing prejudice against homosexuals.

The authors claim that there is a strong correlation between low intelligence both as a child and an adult, and right-wing politics.

The authors also claim that conservative politics is part of a complex relationship that leads people to become prejudices.

‘Conservative ideology represents a critical pathway through which childhood intelligence predicts racism in adulthood,’ says the paper.

‘In psychological terms, the relation between intelligence and prejudice may stem from the propensity of individuals with lower cognitive ability to endorse more right wing conservative ideologies because such ideologies offer a psychological sense of stability and order.’

‘Clearly, however, all socially conservative people are not prejudiced, and all prejudiced persons are not conservative.’

It is interesting to compare the above study with a  famous quote from Winston Churchill as one indicates that low intelligence leads to conservatism while the other indicates that age, maturity and wisdom lead to conservatism.




THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Simo

    Wasn’t called the Colorado study was it?

  • Woody

    A study by academics who find that non academics have different (therefore inferior) beliefs to lefty academics – well what a surprise, and it is us non intelligent righties who fund this garbage. Give me strength.

    • Chris EM

      Yeah, I got to “academics claim”, and thought, yeah, right.

    • Jackie

      The left always gets the right to pay for them…no wonder the left thinks we lack intelligence………

  • NahYeah

    I would love to see the questions they used in their IQ tests. And are they going to allow anyone to check their data?

    Edit: “The authors claim that there is a strong correlation between low intelligence both as a child and an adult……” But they didn’t measure IQ of the subjects as adults, hmmmmm.

  • Tony Norriss

    Seems to me the problem is how they define “right wing”.

    The problem with the study is they assume that right wingers are also bigots. However, that logic doesn’t follow.

    It seems to me the study is actually comparing open minded, tolerant people vs closed minded bigots, and that political persuasion actually has little to do with it.

  • Shalice

    Have yet to meet a leftist that when presented with a logical argument was able to cope without going all hostile with the old “you’re racist, sexist and transphobic” stance

  • Seriously?

    Clearly the researchers never read The Daily Bog or The Strandard.

    • Woody

      I try not to as well, the level of discussion and intelligence is so far above me that I can barely understand what point is being made, oh and the rich language skills used are beyond me as well, probably because a lot of the words used I was not allowed to practice with as a youngster and now Pete won’t let me use them either.

  • Korau

    So, lets see. Conservatives (rich pricks) earn more, keep more and waste less (if they are rich). So these dummies must be ultra lucky, and all the left must just be plain unlucky.

    So, Conservatives are lucky. Socialists are unlucky. See, my study is just as valid.

  • RightofSingapore
  • Pluto

    If lefties are so smart how did they end up with Angry Andy ?

    • Dave

      Or Cunnliffe, or Shearer, or……… now, lets compare their individual successes with someone like, John Key. Just a simple example.

  • Phooey

    So academic is good? Really? Ever seen an academic with a saw or a hammer??

    • InnerCityDweller

      Actually yes, more than one. Not a pretty sight, I can tell you that much.

  • Seriously?

    On a serious note, I don’t like the way conservative = right wing, and liberal = left wing. I consider my views on a lot of things to be quite liberal (say homosexuality for example) but would place myself right of center on a political scale (maybe not in an American context, but certainly in an NZ context).

    The study seems very, well, simplistic to say the least.

  • bilgewater

    You have to be intelligent to call people you disagree with nasty names. It requires a special intelligence to hold up a placard painted for you and to chant slogans someone else made up.

  • Disinfectant

    “left wingers tend to be more open minded …”.

    Not the ones I’ve met.

  • NahYeah

    I would love to see a study looking at the political leanings of the prison population. It seems that Labour knows how they vote.

    • Sally

      I would love to see a study looking at those on welfare vs IQ vs political leanings.
      I suppose we should credited some of them with some intelligences as there are plenty who know how to game the system.

  • localnews

    In general it is accepted that conservatives come from the employer, professional class and are more financially well off than left wingers. This study would appear to be claiming that intelligence and wealth are inversely related which seems surprising.

  • Kevin!

    “WASHINGTON – Just when liberals thought it was safe to start identifying themselves as such, an acclaimed, veteran psychiatrist is making the case that the ideology motivating them is actually a mental disorder.

    “Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded,” says Dr. Lyle Rossiter, author of the new book, “The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness.” “Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave.”

  • Its a silly generalisation, one so incredibly simplistic and closed minded I wonder how young that academic is, or how much real world experience they have. I suspect they’re reasonably young and have lived thus far a life of very limited horizons. Really, I just found it worthy of a good laugh and nothing else.

  • BR

    I guess that means that it’s mostly right wing conservatives that can mostly be found in places like the casinos, the TAB and the prisons.


  • Huia

    The fact that the study was done by Academics is a red flag for a start, Academia is such an unbiased environment.(not)
    I guess all those munted right wingers who have created business’s, created employment, opened up trade opportunities, fed and housed their families, supported schools and leaning, paid huge taxes, enjoyed open minded discussions must have been wrong all along and didn’t know it.
    Thankyou for your extremely close minded view little Academic, what have you done for your Country and its people? (apart from hide in a University environment where you don’t have to be responsible for anything, apart from making ridiculous statements.

  • sandalwood789

    If left-wingers are so “intelligent” then why do they think that only *they* can be caring and kind?

    If they are so bright then why do they believe in the failed ideology of socialism?

    If they are so bright then why do they *never* defend their arguments with facts, reason and logic? They always do it by shouting and screaming.

  • Doc45

    I am quite comfortable with lefties being more intelligent. What I do know is that right wingers have more common sense, greater practical understanding, smarter intuition, more advanced life skills, stronger moral compasses, greater mental stability, and much more. Who needs intelligence?

    • KatB

      Totally agree with you. I must add that when they say Left-wingers tend to be more open minded, I wouldn’t call it open minded, I’d call it gullible.

  • JEL51

    Ummm, ah, what is ‘intelligence’ ? [ off to turn-over fresh flounder for dinner before I spoil it]

  • BMSKiwi

    Superficial leftwing academic posturing. Every single election indicates that as people get older their views shift to the right. Perhaps as people acquire more life experience, they become more stupid?

    Nonetheless there’s a grain of truth there, and if these guys were a little less ideological they could have turned turned this pig’s ear into a silk purse. Because stupid people probably are prone to right wing views. That’s what rednecks are. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong, just that they form their views in an unsophisticated way.

    More intelligent people tend to get more education, and lemming-like get carried away by the magnificence of the ideological theories their vast brains are able to encompass. These are the people for whom the saying was coined, ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’.

    Then there are the people, from all walks of life, who understand what Socrates meant when he wrote:

    “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”
    These people are the heart of modern conservatism.

  • SaggyNaggy

    There’s smart, and then there’s dirty commie smart…

  • one for the road

    Winston was right on the button,- you just have to read comments on FB from both age groups to see that!

  • InnerCityDweller

    Since when is going to university the same as being intelligent?

  • Toby

    I hate being bundled in with shotgun wielding, banjo playing, takes 10 different men to get a full set of teeth racists just because I’m conservative.

    Conservative Racist
    just like..
    Socialist Communist

  • Observer

    I thought after controversy of The Bell Curve and the comments by James Watson, that left-wingers thought that intelligence testing was a kind of pseudoscience? :D

    This study reminds me of the recent one which had originally concluded that right-wingers were more authoritatian, but it turned out they made a coding error. It turned out that the left wingers were more authoritarian :)

  • Rick H

    So, who were the “researchers” that came up with this drivel?

    Sue Moroney and Grant Robertson?