Cognitive ability predicts economic extremism

Conservative economic attitudes have been theorized as symptoms of low cognitive ability. Studies suggest the opposite, linking more conservative views weakly to higher, not lower, cognitive ability, but with very large between-study variability. Here, we propose and replicate a new model linking cognitive ability not to liberal or conservative economics, but to economic extremism: How far individuals deviate from prevailing centrist views. Two large pre-registered studies in the UK (N = 700 & 700) and the British Cohort Study dataset (N = 11,563) replicated the predicted association of intelligence with economic deviance (β = 0.4 to 0.12). These findings were robust and expand the role of cognitive ability from tracking the economic consensus to influencing support for (relatively) extremist views. They suggest opportunities to understand the generation and mainstreaming of radical fringe social attitudes.

That is from a new paper by Chien-An Lin and Timothy C. Bates.  I would frame it a little differently!  For one thing, the extreme views are sufficiently complex that perhaps the smarter people are more likely to pick them up and understand them, whether those views are correct or not.

Via Michelle Dawson.



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