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Homophobes are more likely to be stupid, according to science

Josh Milton February 9, 2021
Americans holding a pride flag and trans flag in the background during a protest.

A protester holds a rainbow flag in support of transgender lives during the demonstration in Times Square, New York City. (John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

There is a scientific link between lower levels of cognitive intelligence and being homophobic, a study has found.

Researchers at the University of Queensland, Australia, drew correlations between those who record a low intelligence quotient (IQ) score and those who express bigoted, prejudiced views.

This connection, scientists wrote in the journal Intelligence, is the first to connect the dots between lower cognitive ability and homophobia.

Using a sample of 11,564 Australians, researchers rifled through data from the 2012 Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA), a survey that charts the economic and personal well-being of the country.

There are, of course, various ways to measure intelligence – the team used the data from the HILDA questionnaire to assess cognitive intelligence: a measure of how well a person can solve problems, make sound judgments as well as their verbal and numeric abilities.

The Institute for Social Science Research team also looked at the 2015 HILDA survey that asked participants’ attitudes towards LGBT+ rights.

It asked respondents how far they agree or disagree with the statement: “Homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples do.”

In comparing the two data sets, researchers found that the lower a person’s cognitive intelligence was found to be, the more likely they were to be homophobic.

“High cognitive ability leads to lower prejudice,” they stressed, before adding that: “Education partially mediates, but does not moderate, the effect of ability.”

The link was strongest when the sample’s verbal ability was assessed but still remained strong even after scientists factored in other variables, such as the participants’ education and socioeconomic status.

“There are well-known correlations between low cognitive ability and support of prejudicial or non-egalitarian attitudes.

“This paper adds to existing knowledge by providing the first analyses of the associations between cognitive ability and attitudes towards LGBT+ issues. Individuals with low cognitive ability are less likely to support equal rights for same-sex couples.”

“Our results suggest that cognitive abilities play a critical, albeit underappreciated, role in prejudice,” they concluded.

“Consequently, we recommend a heightened focus on cognitive ability in research on prejudice and a better integration of cognitive ability into prejudice models.”

More: Homophobia

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