Sunday, July 10, 2016

Smarter people are more prejudiced against larger numbers of people than anyone else

Well that is an interesting trove of data I have not seen commented upon. From Answering Unresolved Questions about the Relationship between Cognitive Ability and Prejudice by Mark J. Brandt and Jarret T. Crawford.

Their data size is 5,914 individuals which is reasonably respectable for sociology and their data set and their formulae are posted online which is also best practice. Still, it is sociology, so caveat emptor.

Their questions boil down to whether high cognitive people versus low cognitive people are more or less prejudiced and whether there is a difference between the targets of prejudice. They construct a list of groups who attract varying degrees of opprobrium. They then collected expressed degrees of prejudice as well as a proxy measure of IQ from some 5,900 participants.

The list is follows. Those at the very top are the groups against whom high cognitive individuals are most biased (in bold) as well as those in bold at the bottom who are the target of the greatest prejudice from those with the lowest demonstrated cognitive ability. The groups in the middle (in italic) suffer prejudice from either or both groups but with a small effect size.
Christian Fundamentalists
Big Business
Tea Party
The Military

Working Class People
Rich People
Middle Class People
Poor People
Labor Unions

People on Welfare
Illegal Immigrants
Asian Americans
The results aren't too surprising. High IQ people are most biased against Christians and especially those with strong faith, as well as against business, conservatives, tea partiers, and those associated with the military.

Those with lower cognitive distinction are more prejudiced against LGBT, atheist, Asian-Americans and Hispanics.

Groups in the middle who are victims of some, but not especially strong, prejudice are Feminists, Mormons, Union members, Poor people, Middles Class people, and the Rich.

The researchers are more interested in the categorization of types of prejudice. Read their paper for that discussion.

I was struck by something rather different. Group sizes.

Those against whom High IQ people are most strongly prejudiced (Christian Fundamentalists, Big Business, Christians, Tea Party, The Military, and Conservatives) are large population sizes. 101 million Americans self-identify as fundamentalist, there are 219 million Christians, there are 53 million who self-identify as Tea Party, 115 million who self-identify as Conservative, and there are 23 million Americans who are either active duty or retired military. In aggregate (omitting the double counting of Christians and Christian Fundamentalists), High IQ people are prejudiced against 419 million people. Obviously there is still some double counting (a military person who is also Christian for example). Still, that is a large number of people to bear bias against.

How many people do Lower IQ people bear prejudice against? 106 million. So High IQ people carry about four times the amount of prejudice as Lower IQ people. That is not the idea of themselves carried by the cognitive elite.

Fascinating to see it quantified.

You can see why there is such frustration in the electorate and resentment against the "elite." Let's take the elite as Higher IQ for the moment as a workable but not especially robust proxy. They carry a strong measured prejudice against 219 million of fellow Americans who are Christian. But the Higher IQ carry no measured prejudice against the 2.8 million Americans who are Muslim. That's good. Ideally, no one would be prejudiced against anyone.

But if you are part of the great 219 million who are on the receiving end of elite prejudice, you might be concerned. Particularly if the elite apparently are beneficially disposed to smaller groups such as LGBT, Muslims and Atheists (together about 35 million).

There is a common trope that the progressive elite hate America. I think that that is a bad faith assumption and also not accurate.

But looking at these numbers you can see why many people can easily reach the conclusion that the cognitive elite (affiliated with the progressive elite) are not only prejudiced against them but are favorably biased in favor of much smaller groups. This is especially so when you see that the cognitive elite have a medium range bias against both the working class (102 million) and the middle class (118 million).

Indeed, a great majority of Americans (roughly some 275 million) are on the receiving end of Higher IQ progressive elite prejudice because they are either working class, middle class or Christian.

The cognitive Higher IQ carry more prejudice against a much larger number of people than those with Lower IQ. And just to be clear, Lower IQ doesn't mean stupid; just mid-ranged.

I think these numbers yield some insight to the rising irritation of the electorate against the vested interests and established elite. They see the higher levels of prejudice demonstrated by the cognitive elite, and indeed experience that prejudice. And at the same time, the elite wish to ignore the consent of the governed, usually on the grounds of greater morality and wisdom. The numbers suggest that that justification is false and Trump, Brexit and other such events suggest that the electorate is tired of the moral preening of the elite and see the prejudice on display and are mad as hell and not "going to take it anymore."

Contact me if you are interested in the spreadsheet with the numeric calculations.

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