Why Liberals Are Smarter Than Conservatives

A friend shared an article on my Facebook timeline that explained “Why Liberals Are Smarter Than Conservatives” by Satoshi Kanazawa. The article was originally written for Scientific Fundamentalist.

Some of the highlights:

Liberals usually support such social welfare programs and higher taxes to finance them, and conservatives usually oppose them.?Defined as such, liberalism is evolutionarily novel.?

Kanazawa explains that humans are generally evolutionarily designed to be?altruistic?toward their genetic relatives, friends and allies, and their own?ethnic group. ?But liberals are different.

[Liberals have] the genuine concern for the welfare of genetically unrelated others and the willingness to contribute larger proportions of private resources for the welfare of such others.

The reason we are genetically geared to care about our own is because our ancestors lived in small bands of genetically related individuals. As such, larger cities with huge populations are also evolutionarily novel.

As it turns out, study shows that liberalism was absent in traditional cultures.This is apparent in the 10-volume compendium?The Encyclopedia of World Cultures,?which describes the more than 1,500 human cultures known to anthropology.?Sharing of resources and food was more common among hunter-gatherer tribes. Trade with nearby tribes did take place, but there is no evidence that any tribe freely shared their resources.

Sharing within the family group or tribe isn’t considered liberalism because it is essentially sharing with ones own kin and close friends. Because all members of a hunter-gatherer tribe are genetic kin or at the very least friends and allies for life, sharing resources among them does not qualify as an expression of liberalism as defined above. ?Therefore, liberalism is?evolutionarily novel, and?consequently naturally more intelligent.

Analysis of children from the U.K. and the U.S. supports this hypothesis. In both countries, the most?intelligent children are more likely to grow up as liberals and those who identify as being??very liberal? in early adulthood have a mean?childhood?IQ of 106.4. Young adults who identify as ?very conservative? have a mean childhood IQ of 94.8.

Ouch! The conservatives didn’t even make it into triple digits.

Let’s address the issue that arose with a Nikolas Kristoff article some years ago. Kristoff’s research showed that conservatives are more likely to give to charitable causes than liberals are. This isn’t an indicator of intelligence or evolution, however. From?Kanazawa:

The primary means that citizens of capitalist democracies contribute their private resources for the welfare of the genetically unrelated others is paying taxes to the government for its social welfare programs.? The fact that conservatives have been shown to give more money to charities than liberals is?not?inconsistent with the prediction from?the Hypothesis; in fact, it supports the prediction.? Individuals can normally choose and select the beneficiaries of their charity donations.? For example, they can choose to give money to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti, because they want to help them, but not to give money to the victims of the earthquake in Chile, because they don’t want to help them.? In contrast, citizens do not have any control over whom the money they pay in taxes benefit.? They cannot individually choose to pay taxes to fund Medicare, because they want to help elderly white people, but not AFDC, because they don’t want to help poor black single mothers.? This may precisely be why conservatives choose to give more money to individual charities of their choice while opposing higher taxes.

Kanazawa also points out that the conservative claim that liberals control the media is totally true.

Liberals?do?control the media, or the show business, or the academia, among other institutions, because, apart from a few areas in life (such as business) where countervailing circumstances may prevail,?liberals control all institutions.? They control the institutions because liberals are on average more intelligent than conservatives and thus they are more likely to attain the highest status in any area of (evolutionarily novel) modern life.

liberals smarter than conservatives

There you have it, folks. Does this mean that all liberals are smarter than all conservatives? Indeed not. I have many intelligent conservative friends, and many of them probably have an IQ higher than mine. But facts are facts. And it also explains why there are so many misspelled right wing protest signs. Just sayin’.

Read?Kanazawa’s entire article at Psychology Today.


Tiffany Willis Clark is a fifth-generation Texan and the founder and editor-in-chief of Liberal America and AmReading.com. An unapologetic member of the Christian Left, she had a long and successful career actively working with at-risk youth, people struggling with poverty and unemployment, and disadvantaged and oppressed populations. She’s passionate about their struggles. In 2011, she made the decision to pursue her dreams and become a full-time writer. Connect with her on LinkedIn, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page.