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The Type Of People You Hate Depends On How Smart You Are, Study Says

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Anti-racism demonstrators march through the city pf Glasgow, Scotland. © Getty Images Anti-racism demonstrators march through the city pf Glasgow, Scotland.

It's easy to think that prejudiced people are just idiots. Obviously, they're not smart enough to know any better. 

But a new study from Tilburg University, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, has found that where we direct our prejudice may have to do with our overall intelligence. 

For the study, researchers Mark Brandt and Jarret Crawford had 5,914 participants (a representative sample of the United States). The researchers first assessed the subjects using a wordsum test (which is thought to be a good indicator of intelligence). Once the intelligence levels were determined, the participants were asked a series of questions. 

Related: Is IQ A Good Predictor Of Work Performance? [Provided by Wochit]

The first question was, "Who are the targets of prejudice?"

"We replicated prior negative associations between cognitive ability and prejudice for groups who are perceived as liberal, unconventional, and having lower levels of choice over group membership," the authors said. "We found the opposite (i.e., positive associations), however, for groups perceived as conservative, conventional and having higher levels of choice over group membership."

The second test was, "Who shows intergroup bias?"

The researchers found that "people with both relatively higher and lower levels of cognitive ability show approximately equal levels of intergroup, bias but toward different sets of groups."

In a nutshell, the study found that people who have lower cognitive ability tend to be prejudiced against nonconventional or liberal groups, as well as groups who don't have any choice in their status, such as people who are defined by their race, gender, or sexual orientation.

On the other hand, individuals of higher intelligence were likely to be prejudiced against groups considered conventional and groups thought to have a high choice in their associations, such as conservatives.

"People dislike people who are different from them," Brandt and Crawford told Broadly. "Derogating people with different worldviews can help people maintain the validity of their own world view."

Brandt and Crawford referenced previous research that has shown that less intelligent people often essentialize or see different groups as being distinct from each other with clear boundaries.

"On the flipside, people high in cognitive ability express more prejudice against high-choice groups," Brandt and Crawford said. "They may be especially angered by groups that they think they should be able to change their minds."

People of all cognitive skill levels are prejudiced. The only difference is who they target with their hate.

Related: 8 People with Higher IQs Than Einstein [Provided by Reader's Digest]

This article was written by Christine Schoenwald from YourTango and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to


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