Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Cognitive ability varies, but prejudice is universal

Public Release: 29-Jul-2016
Cognitive ability varies, but prejudice is universal
Society for Personality and Social Psychology

When it comes to prejudice, it does not matter if you are smart or not, or conservative or liberal, each group has their own specific biases. In a recent study, psychologists show that low cognitive ability (i.e., intelligence, verbal ability) was not a consistent predictor of prejudice. Cognitive ability, whether high or low, only predicts prejudice towards specific groups. The results are published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.

"Very few people are immune to expressing prejudice, especially prejudice towards people they disagree with," says lead author Mark Brandt (Tilburg University, Netherlands).

Brandt and Jarret Crawford (The College of New Jersey) analyzed data from 5914 people in the United States that includes a measure of verbal ability and prejudice towards 24 different groups.

Analyzing the results, the researchers found that people with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup bias, but towards different sets of groups. People with low cognitive ability tended to express prejudice towards groups perceived as liberal and unconventional (e.g., atheists, gays and lesbians), as well as groups of people perceived as having low choice over group membership (e.g., ethnic minorities). People with high cognitive ability showed the reverse pattern. They tended to express prejudice towards groups perceived as conservative and conventional (e.g., Christians, the military, big business).
[How do they define "prejudice"? If you are not a Christian, you have received nasty comments & behaviour from people calling themselves Christians, , and proposals to limit your rights, so of course you will have negative feelings toward them. If you are intelligent and informed, you will know that big business does do things like conceal the fact that their products are harmful, conspire to make needed medicines cost a lot, etc. I have noticed that people in various groups readily accept totally ridiculous claims towards those they don't like.]

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