Thursday, March 08, 2012

Thursday Science Report

Here's the abstract from a paper in the current issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science (the APS is the association for scientific psychology, as distinct from the practice of psychotherapy. The APA tries to cater to both but ends up favoring the clinicians).
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. Bright Minds and Dark Attitudes: Lower Cognitive Ability Predicts Greater Prejudice Through Right-Wing Ideology and Low Intergroup Contact

I'm not sure if you have to be a member to access that site. If not, Discover magazine has a good explanation of the paper that goes into some of the data and the cognitive model that is proposed. The author of the Discover article is conservative, by the way, and has anecdotes to undermine the academic publication, but he explains it well and does not challenge the result. Abstract reasoning ability correlates negatively with right-wing authoritarianism and negatively with prejudice against homosexuals, but the prejudice was greater for right-wing authoritarians. On the other hand, contact with homosexuals was positively correlated with abstract reasoning ability and negatively correlated with prejudice against them.


Anonymous David S. Fishback said...

The report is available to the public at

March 08, 2012 11:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anybody watch survivor ?

Explain Colton !

March 08, 2012 9:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and while you are at it ...


to what lengths will libs sacrifice their most sacred principles to justify this maniac out to destroy our consitition ?
have you no moral compass ?

okay scratch that... we already know you don't.

March 08, 2012 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


"No WMD over here, or under here, or over there! Nyuk nyuk nyuk!"

Did George W Bush Invade Iraq to Avenge His Daddy?

Faces of the Fallen

March 09, 2012 2:32 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I have a problem with associating anything with a concept of general intelligence (g). The concept has a long history of racist overtones.

March 10, 2012 1:39 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Yes, Robert, IQ has been misused, and there is also controversy over its statistical validity. There are a number of subscales on an IQ test, and they correlate with one another, which is why researchers have proposed a single general intelligence factor.

This study used a specific abstract reasoning test but seemed to refer to it as if it were a measure of general intelligence, which might be unjustified but it's a gray area.


March 10, 2012 2:29 PM  
Anonymous Robert said...

The basic "testing" definition for a learning disability is a difference of one standard deviation for a skill in academic testing or in a subtest from the general "IQ" score.

March 12, 2012 9:53 AM  

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