Dr. Gordon Hodson, a Professor of Psychology at Brock University explains that a recent study, published in Psychological Science shows how a vicious cycle may be the explanation behind the theory that people with lower IQ scores tend to lean toward socially conservative schools of thought as well as prejudice. The reasoning lies in how those ideologies give structure to a complex world and eliminate much of the worry of adapting to changes and reasoning.
Hodson said that many of the most socially conservative ideologies are rooted in conformity as well as maintaining the status quo. For those who have limited ability to reason when faced with many choices or fresh ideas, that can be reassuring, even comforting, leading them to seek out those types of belief systems, because their thinking has been done for them. Hodson’s research was conducted using the standardized intelligence quotient testing. The psychology world is sharply divided between whether or not those tests actually reveal real intelligence or if they are just another popular number that technically means nothing. Hodson revealed that those who scored in the lower ranges on the IQ tests as children were much more likely to have prejudiced belief systems and to follow more socially conservative politics once they reach adulthood.
That study partially echoes a 2009 study completed by UCLA professor of neurology Paul Thompson and his research team. That study showed that a person’s intelligence is partially predetermined at birth. Using a faster version of the MRI scanner, the team found that intelligence is influenced by axons in the brain. The faster that the axons send their signals to the brain, the faster the brain can handle the information and process it correctly. Genetics play a role in the process because they determine how thick the myelin sheath becomes. That sheath coats each of the nerves- the thicker the sheath, the more efficiently the nerves are able to work.
While the study may have proven that intelligence does have a basis in genetics, other studies have shown that IQ scores can fluctuate throughout the lifetime. In a UK study with teenagers between 15 and 20, researchers found that when IQ tests were given several times over a set period, the scores could fluctuate by as much as twenty points either higher or lower. More importantly, brain scans showed that the changes were more than testing anxiety or guesser’s luck- they were physical as well.