Are Liberals More Intelligent than Conservatives? - Why Liberals Are More Intelligent than Conservatives

The Intelligence Paradox: Why the Intelligent Choice Isn't Always the Smart One - Satoshi Kanazawa 2012

Are Liberals More Intelligent than Conservatives?
Why Liberals Are More Intelligent than Conservatives

This indeed appears to be the case. Even when statistically controlling for such relevant factors and potential confounds as age, race, education, income, and religion, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to become more liberal than less intelligent children.12 Intelligence measured in junior high and high school strongly predicts adult political ideology seven years later. The more intelligent American adolescents are in junior high and high school, the more liberal they become as young adults.

Figure 5.1 Association between childhood intelligence and adult liberalism


Figure 5.1 shows that young adults in their early 20s who identify themselves as “very conservative” have the average adolescent IQ of 94.82 in junior high and high school, whereas young adults who identify themselves as “very liberal” have the average adolescent IQ of 106.42. And the association between adult political ideology and adolescent IQ is monotonic; as one increases, the other steadily increases as well.

As a mean difference between two large categories of individuals, the 11-point difference in childhood IQ between “very liberal” and “very conservative” young American adults is very large and statistically significant. The probability that the results in the above figure can happen by chance, when there is actually no association between intelligence and liberalism, is less than one in 100,000. Even though past studies show that women are more liberal than men,13 and that blacks are more liberal than whites,14 the statistical analysis shows that the effect of childhood intelligence on adult political ideology is twice as strong as the effect of sex or race.

The analyses of both Add Health and GSS data confirm the prediction of the Intelligence Paradox that more intelligent individuals are more likely to acquire and espouse the evolutionarily novel value of liberalism, whereas less intelligent individuals are more likely to acquire and espouse the evolutionarily familiar value of conservatism. But the association between intelligence and political ideology is not limited to the United States.

For example, even though there are no “liberals” and “conservatives” in the American sense in the United Kingdom—by the American standard, everybody in the United Kingdom is a socialist and there is very little substantive political disagreement among British citizens—a longitudinal study of a large, nationally representative sample of British citizens shows that British children who are more intelligent at ages 5 and 10 are more likely to vote for either the Green Party or the Liberal Democratic Party at age 34.15 However, because British political parties are not as different from each other on the liberal-conservative dimension as American political parties are, I am not sure what this results means in the context of the Intelligence Paradox.

Incidentally, the empirical finding that liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives substantiates one of the persistent complaints among conservatives. Conservatives often complain that liberals control the media or show business or academia or some other social institutions. The Intelligence Paradox can explain why conservatives are correct in their complaints. Liberals do control the media, or show business, or academia, among other institutions, because, apart from a few areas in life (such as business) where countervailing circumstances may prevail, liberals control most institutions. They control the institutions, not because they are liberals, but because they are on average more intelligent than conservatives. They are therefore more likely to attain the highest status in any areas of evolutionarily novel modern life.

Of course, as with any other broad empirical generalizations, there are exceptions. Liberals do not control every single organization in every single area of life. However, the balance is far from equal, and the overall bias is pretty obvious. For example, in the area of the mass media, AM talk radio is predominantly conservative; however, it is only one of many mass media channels (newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, movies, the internet, etc.), and all other mass media exhibit a strong liberal bias. In fact, as I elaborate later in Chapter 10, while AM talk radio is conservative, FM talk radio (mostly, NPR) is very liberal. Among cable TV news channels, Fox News is relatively conservative, but it is only one of many cable TV news channels, all of which are entirely liberal. So it is safe to conclude that liberals control most organizations in most areas of life, even though the American population in general is mostly conservative.