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In a new study that will surprise absolutely no one, researchers at the University of Queensland in Australia found that people with lower intelligence are also more likely to have prejudices against gay people. But what does this low IQ homophobia study really reveal about homophobes and intelligence? Let’s take a closer look.
Details of the low IQ homophobia study
In a study entitled “The Cognitive Roots of Prejudice Towards Same-Sex Couples: An Analysis of an Australian National Sample,” researchers analyzed data acquired from over 11,654 Australians in the Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia Survey (HILDA), a representative annual survey of the Australian public.
The 2012 HILDA survey measured respondents’ cognitive abilities — particularly their reading ability, attention span and memory — and the 2015 HILDA survey asked people to respond to the statement “Homosexual couples should have the same rights as heterosexual couples do” on a scale of 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree).
Researchers found a correlation between individuals who scored low on the cognitive tests and those who didn’t think gay couples should have the same rights as straight couples. This doesn’t mean that lower intelligence causes anti-gay attitudes (or vice-versa), merely that the two correlate.
Why is lower intelligence linked to higher homophobia?
According to the study, “A large and growing body of research (from 2010 to 2016) in psychology, political science and sociology has established that low cognitive ability is correlated with intergroup prejudice, ethno-centrism, authoritarianism, dogmatism, conservatism and other non-egalitarian attitudes.”
Researchers think people with lower cognitive abilities stick to black-and-white thinking and avoid interacting with groups that might change their minds to help them deal with the unpredictability, ambiguity and fear that can come from change.
So, if you think gays don’t deserve equal rights because societal stereotypes say so, that’s mentally easier than thinking of all the ways you and your peers might need to change if you admit that gay people actually deserve equality.
Since other research also positively correlates education level and intelligence, it reasons that people with more education have the intellectual ability to hear anti-gay arguments and decide for themselves whether to believe them or not.
This doesn’t mean that intelligent people are less homophobic; it just means they’re less likely to be homophobic than, well, a dumb person.