October 09, 2008

Intelligence in childhood and adult voting preferences

There was another recent post on political orientation and IQ. I don't know much about British politics, but both Liberal Democrats and Greens seem to be small minority parties with specific agendas, and this would agree with the finding of the previous study of higher intelligence in political extremists (*)

Related: another study on childhood IQ from the 1970 British Cohort study.

(*) If we define extremism as taking an unpopular or "niche" political position; I have no opinion on the merits of these two parties.

doi: 10.1016/j.intell.2008.09.001

Childhood intelligence predicts voter turnout, voting preferences, and political involvement in adulthood: The 1970 British Cohort Study

Ian J. Deary et al.


Little is known about the association between measured intelligence and how people participate in democratic processes. In the 1970 British Cohort Study, we examined the association between childhood intelligence and, at age 34: whether and how people voted in the 2001 UK general election; how they intended to vote; and whether they had taken part in other political activities. People with higher childhood intelligence were more likely to vote in the 2001 election (38% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence), and were more likely to vote for the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats (49% and 47% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence, respectively). The intelligence-Green party voting association was largely accounted for by occupational social class, the intelligence-Liberal Democrat voting association was not. Similar associations between intelligence and preference for the Green Party or Liberal Democrats were found as regards voting intentions, but neither of these associations was accounted for by occupational social class. People with higher childhood intelligence were more likely to take part in rallies and demonstrations, and to sign petitions, and expressed a greater interest in politics (40%, 65%, 33%, and 58% increased prevalence per SD increase in intelligence, respectively).



Maju said...

I don't think one can consider the Liberal Democrats "extremists": the party is heir to the traditional Liberal (Whig) party and is supposed to be at the center of the spectrum, at least originally (nowadays some consider it to be at the left of Labour but guess that's mostly because their opposition to state control and incorporation of welfare and ecologist values and to the drift of Labor towards liberal economics - not enough to make them "extremists" anyhow). They are he third major party of the UK (what is hard to achieve in a winner-takes-all system), getting 22% of votes in last elections (roughly in the middle of their historical marks).

Greens are more at the extreme in the paralmentary spectrum but for really "extremist" parties one should look for stuff like the BNP (fascists), the DUP or maybe the Sinn Féin (though the last two are exclusive of Northern Ireland).

What this study (alone) suggests to me is that smarter people are less likely to be drawn to the major parties and more likely to make rather moderate progressive innovative choices.

Did the other study suggest any affinity between IQ and the far right? I tend to think of far right extremists as empty headed but I may be wrong.

brook said...

Political are fair things that people who are willing to do service will enter into politics. Childhood who are willing to can be welcomed but the will not have enough general knowledge about politics.

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