Of all the requests for research that we’ve received over the years, the most popular request was for the information on intelligence, psychology, and political ideology.  Below are some of the best resources on the topic and should be more than enough to help you win a few arguments.

The Jack Block Study:

Jack Block was a professor emeritus at UC Berkeley.  One of his most famous studies began in 1968, where he followed a group of pre-school students all the way into adulthood, to see how their behaviors as toddlers affected their behaviors as adults.  One of the most remarkable findings from the study was that the children who were whiny, fearful, and ill-tempered grew up to be conservative, while the children who were more willing to share, were more tolerant, and had more positive attitudes grew up to be liberals.  You can find the full study at this link (PDF).

The Dunning Kruger Effect:

From Wikipedia:  The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than average. This bias is attributed to a metacognitive inability of the unskilled to recognize their mistakes.

Chauncey DeVega, a regular guest on Ring of Fire, has written about the topic, as well.


Intelligence and Political Ideology:

From Science Daily:

  • More intelligent people are statistically significantly more likely to exhibit social values and religious and political preferences that are novel to the human species in evolutionary history.  Specifically, liberalism and atheism, and for men (but not women), preference for sexual exclusivity correlate with higher intelligence, a new study finds.
  • The study, published in the March 2010 issue of the peer-reviewed scientific journal Social Psychology Quarterly, advances a new theory to explain why people form particular preferences and values.  The theory suggests that more intelligent people are more likely than less intelligent people to adopt evolutionarily novel preferences and values, but intelligence does not correlate with preferences and values that are old enough to have been shaped by evolution over millions of years.”

From The Huffington Post:

  • Are racists dumb? Do conservatives tend to be less intelligent than liberals? A provocative new study from Brock University in Ontario suggests the answer to both questions may be a qualified yes.
  • The study, published in Psychological Science, showed that people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and socially conservative politics in adulthood.
  • Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience.
  • Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Hodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.

From ABC News:

  • Conservatives and liberals may have one less thing in common: neurology.  ProCon.org has gathered 13 peer-reviewed studies of behavioral and neurological studies and come to the conclusion that differences between Republicans and Democrats are more than skin-deep.
  • The studies looked at things like differences between groups’ perception of eye movement, and aversion to threatening noises.  Researchers also noted that Democrats had larger anterior cingulate cortexes, which are associated with tolerance to uncertainty, while Republicans had larger right amygdalas, which are associated with sensitivity to fear.
  • “Everybody seems to basically agree, and these are people that have scientific backgrounds,” Markoff said of the repetition in the studies. “That to me is probably the biggest eye-opener.”
  • Although Markoff concluded the studies combine to mean that the different groups communicate in different ways, psychiatrist Greg Appelbaum said the studies point toward conservatives’ tendency to avoid something called self-harm, while liberals avoid collective group harm.

And finally, here’s an interview that Mike Papantonio conducted with former Raw Story investigative journalist Sahil Kapur on the subject:

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at DeSmogBlog.com. He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced