Chronicles of the Lifeworld

lifeworld–the world of everyday life; the world as experienced.

Conservatives and Liberals: Intelligence

Using data from the General Social Survey, I put together some demographic and attitudinal statistics of those who label themselves liberals and conservatives. I used the POLVIEWS variable as my base variable and checked it against demographic and attitudinal variables.

You can replicate these findings by going here and placing POLVIEWS in the column field and the following variables in the row field.

Over the next few days I will post more demographic and attitudinal differences between liberals and conservatives, such as age, views on race, views on abortion, etc.

Intelligence and Political Views

Varible: WORDSUM; Recoded: WORDSUM(r:0-3″Below 4″;4;5;6;7;8;9;10)

The WORDSUM variable can be used as a proxy for IQ. Data for this variable was gathered by administering a vocabulary test to respondents. Though a ten question vocabulary would not appear to measure much, Razib Khan found an academic paper that showed a positive correlation (0.71) between the WORDSUM variable and adult IQ. It certainly isn’t a perfect measure. But take it for what it is.

Some of the lower values have small Ns, which can make generalizing problematic. To overcome this problem, somewhat, I recoded the variable and placed the four lowest values–0 to 3–into one category simply labeled “Below 4.”

Three things pop out at me. First, those who scored eight and above on the spelling test tend to be overrepresented on the liberal end of the spectrum. Second, the “Below 4” value appears almost U shaped from one end of the spectrum to the next. Third, liberals tend to be very intelligent and very dim. There are other observations but I’ll leave those for you.

The fun part comes in trying to tease out the causal mechanism(s) behind the relationship. Does being intelligent increase one’s chances of being liberal? The converse, that being liberal tends to increase one’s intelligence, doesn’t pass the smell test.


Written by Cody

August 4, 2010 at 21:36

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