New Study Explains Connection Between Conservatism, Low IQ, And High Religiosity


"Conservative syndrome" more broadly explains the negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity.

Numerous studies have shown a negative correlation between intelligence and religiosity, but a new study indicates this link is part of a larger picture – a cluster of psychological traits and attitudes called “conservative syndrome”.

From PsyPost:

> The term isn’t meant to describe conservatism as a disease. Rather, “syndrome” denotes that a number of traits and dispositions associated with conservatism are correlated with each other.


> The new study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, suggests that the “conservative syndrome” is associated with lower intelligence, and religiosity is only a part of it.

Lazar Stankov, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Sydney and author of the study, set out to study intelligence within the realm of social conservatism, rather than within a narrow focus of religiosity.

> “Much of our own cross-cultural work and studies of militant extremist mindset (MEM) have shown that religiosity is best understood as an aspect of social conservatism. However, expert in intelligence tend to view religiosity in isolation rather than in its broader context. My aim was to point out that social conservatives, not just religious people, tend to score somewhat lower on measures of intelligence.


> For their study, the researchers analyzed data from 8,883 participants from 33 different countries. Fluid intelligence was assessed using a number series test, which requires participants to find the missing number in a sequence.

The results?

> In line with previous research, they found that people who scored lower on the intelligence test were more likely to be religious. The researchers also found that endorsement of traditional values, the belief that power should be concentrated at higher levels of a government and conservative political beliefs moderated the link between lower intelligence and religiousness.


> “It should understand that social conservatives, including very religious people, tend to be more restricted in their views of the world,” Stankov told PsyPost. “Because of their lower IQ they are more close-minded and afraid of change. They also tend to be more nasty towards those who do not belong to their own group.”

Stankov previously explained that conservatism as a political label often causes confusion, and the term in itself does not necessarily imply “conservatism syndrome”, religiosity, or lower intelligence.

> “An important issue is the relationship between conservative syndrome and political conservatism. The motivation of those voting for conservative parties varies,” Stankov explained. “In Western countries a sizeable proportion of people may do so for fiscal rather than social reasons. Their main concern is with the preservation of the free market and less so with social and psychological aspects of life. Given the rise of populism in politics it may be interesting to study the interaction between fiscal and social conservatives and the extent to which each is using the other to achieve political gains.”

Further, Stankov noted that although the negative correlation between intelligence and both religiosity and conservatism is well documented, the effect may be less than previously thought:

> “I may add, however, that while negative correlations cannot be questioned, some recent work indicates that the strength of the relationship at least in Western countries is weaker than previously thought.”

Read more here.

Comments (4)
No. 1-3

This is intellectualism at its finest, the 'right way to live' hasn't been discovered yet as far as I know, so this line of thinking drips with intellectual chauvinism and soft-materialism. If this was about, say marijuana and it was in a negative light everyone would immediately note the author's bias on reaching their decision. Its basically the same here, 'education' has NO strict boundaries and is in fact, IMHO, used against people the same way religion is/was; an indoctrination in the inherent 'truth' of left-wing politics, which while perhaps not as bad as religion/conservatism has produced its fair share of bullies as well as take on those dogmatic approaches. Please, my favorite thing is to be proved wrong, it's when I learn things so have at it and have a great day.

Ange Stahl
Ange Stahl

Nowhere in the article does it suggest a 'right way to live'. It states research was done and testing found a correlation between low intelligence and high rates of conservatism and being religious. Nothing in that sentence suggests a judgement about living. If you feel offended about the research, I wonder if you perhaps fall into one of the above categories and that is the reason for your offence and subsequent attack on 'being intellectual'.


FYI, Conservatism does NOT have "the belief that power should be concentrated at higher levels of a government". Quite the opposite! It is the liberals that want the government to control all aspects of our life. Conservatives believe more in local rule, smaller government, and less regulation! It is this kind of pseudo-science that destroys the public's trust in real science!

Atheism And Secularism