Political liberalism, atheism and sexual exclusivity among males may be reflections of intelligence, according to a study of Americans by an evolutionary pyschologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
CNN reports that the study by Satoshi Kanazawa correlated data on these behaviors with IQ from a large national U.S. sample and found that, on average, people who identified as liberal and atheist had higher IQs. This applied also to sexual exclusivity in men, but not in women. The findings are to be published in the March 2010 issue of Social Psychology Quarterly.
From the CNN report:
The IQ differences, while statistically significant, are not stunning – on the order of 6 to 11 points – and the data should not be used to stereotype or make assumptions about people, experts say. But they show how certain patterns of identifying with particular ideologies develop, and how some people’s behaviors come to be.
The reasoning is that sexual exclusivity in men, liberalism and atheism all go against what would be expected given humans’ evolutionary past. In other words, none of these traits would have benefited our early human ancestors, but higher intelligence may be associated with them.
“The adoption of some evolutionarily novel ideas makes some sense in terms of moving the species forward,” said George Washington University leadership professor James Bailey, who was not involved in the study. “It also makes perfect sense that more intelligent people – people with, sort of, more intellectual firepower – are likely to be the ones to do that.”
Bailey also said that these preferences may stem from a desire to show superiority or elitism, which also has to do with IQ. In fact, aligning oneself with “unconventional” philosophies such as liberalism or atheism may be “ways to communicate to everyone that you’re pretty smart,” he said.