Researchers at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, have published a study in Psychological Science that shows people who score low on I.Q. tests in childhood are more likely to develop prejudiced beliefs and conservative political views in adulthood.

I.Q., or intelligence quotient, is a score used to describe an individual’s level of intelligence as determined by their performance on a standardized test. The validity of the tests has been hotly debated by psychologists, educators and others who are not convinced of their accuracy.

Dr. Gordon Hodson, a professor of psychology at the university and the study’s lead author, said the finding represented evidence of a vicious cycle: People of low intelligence gravitate toward socially conservative ideologies, which stress resistance to change and, in turn, prejudice, he told LiveScience.

Why might less intelligent people be drawn to conservative ideologies? Because such ideologies feature “structure and order” that make it easier to comprehend a complicated world, Dodson said. “Unfortunately, many of these features can also contribute to prejudice,” he added.

Although most of us would concur that racists are dumb, we should also be careful not to paint any group of people (including the mentally challenged) with one broad negative stroke. It does make perfect sense that an inability to use rational thought to sort truth from error may lead an intellectually challenged person to embrace misinformation, stereotyping and exclusionary beliefs, but having a low I.Q. does not automatically make one a hater.

In the words of the famous (and, yes, fictional) Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

by kathleen crossĀ for