We can’t say we’re surprised but according to an article in the journal Psychology Today, Liberals are smarter than Conservatives (no separate testing was done for Tea Party members).
Now I’m certain this article is going to raise the hackles of those on the right, but read the story to conclusion and then make a comment.
From the article, which was published in March, these gems:
It is difficult to define a whole school of political ideology precisely, but one may reasonably define liberalism (as opposed to conservatism) in the contemporary United States as the genuine concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated others and the willingness to contribute larger proportions of private resources for the welfare of such others. In the modern political and economic context, this willingness usually translates into paying higher proportions of individual incomes in taxes toward the government and its social welfare programs. Liberals usually support such social welfare programs and higher taxes to finance them, and conservatives usually oppose them.
Analyses of large representative samples, from both the United States and the United Kingdom, confirm this prediction. In both countries, more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to be liberals than less intelligent children. For example, among the American sample, those who identify themselves as “very liberal” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 106.4, whereas those who identify themselves as “very conservative” in early adulthood have a mean childhood IQ of 94.8.
Even though past studies show that women are more liberal than men, and blacks are more liberal than whites, the effect of childhood intelligence on adult political ideology is twice as large as the effect of either sex or race. So it appears that, as the Hypothesis predicts, more intelligent individuals are more likely to espouse the value of liberalism than less intelligent individuals, possibly because liberalism is evolutionarily novel and conservatism is evolutionarily familiar.
The primary means that citizens of capitalist democracies contribute their private resources for the welfare of the genetically unrelated others is paying taxes to the government for its social welfare programs. The fact that conservatives have been shown to give more money to charities than liberals is not inconsistent with the prediction from the Hypothesis; in fact, it supports the prediction. Individuals can normally choose and select the beneficiaries of their charity donations. For example, they can choose to give money to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, because they want to help them, but not to give money to the victims of the earthquake in Chile, because they don’t want to help them. In contrast, citizens do not have any control over whom the money they pay in taxes benefit. They cannot individually choose to pay taxes to fund Medicare, because they want to help elderly white people, but not AFDC, because they don’t want to help poor black single mothers. This may precisely be why conservatives choose to give more money to individual charities of their choice while opposing higher taxes.
Incidentally, this finding substantiates one of the persistent complaints among conservatives. Conservatives often complain that liberals control the media or the show business or the academia or some other social institutions. The Hypothesis explains why conservatives are correct in their complaints. Liberals do control the media, or the show business, or the academia, among other institutions, because, apart from a few areas in life (such as business) where countervailing circumstances may prevail, liberals control all institutions. They control the institutions because liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives and thus they are more likely to attain the highest status in any area of (evolutionarily novel) modern life.
Now while all this is interesting, let’s be honest. They are plenty of dumb liberals out there and lots of smart conservatives as well. And there are people of both political ideals who do dumb things (Eliot Spitzer, Anthony Weiner for example). But what I believe this article and this post is really designed to do is measure the sense of humor liberals and conservatives have. Let’s not take these conclusions too seriously 😉