People with higher cognitive ability are more likely to support individual freedoms and less concerned with being “woke,” according to a new study. A group of researchers led by Louise Drieghe surveyed 300 North American adults. They carried out the survey using the platform Mechanical Turk.
To measure participants’ cognitive ability, they administered the Ammons Quick Test.
The test involves correctly assigning words to pictures.
Previous studies have shown that people’s scores on the test correlate strongly with their scores on more comprehensive IQ tests, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale.
The researchers also assessed participants’ support for free speech and concern for political correctness, according to the Daily Sceptic.
To measure the former, they constructed a 9-item scale, comprising items such as “Every individual has the unalienable right to express their thoughts freely,” and “Censorship of speech leaves little room for debate and diverse points of view”.
To measure the latter, they used a 7-item scale developed by two other researchers.
It includes items such as “I try to educate people around me about the political meaning of their words” and “I get mad when I hear someone use politically incorrect language.”
The researchers’ key finding is shown in the first column of the table below.
The values are correlation coefficients – a way of quantifying how strongly related two variables are.
As you can see, there was a moderate positive correlation between cognitive ability and support for freedom of speech.
There is also a moderate negative correlation between cognitive ability and concern for political correctness.
The asterisks in the table tell us these results are statistically significant.
North Americans with higher cognitive ability are more supportive of free speech and less concerned about political correctness.
In other words, they’re less “woke.”
One possibility is that this is only true among highly educated people.
However, the sample was skewed towards those with a university degree: 66% of participants had one, compared to less than 40% in the general population.
Perhaps the correlations would have been weaker if the sample had been more representative.
Having said that, the study’s findings are consistent with previous research that finds cognitive ability is associated with broadly classically liberal beliefs, such as support for free speech, democracy, and rights for women, and opposition to state control of the economy.
Which prompts the question: if the “woke” are less intelligent, how did they gain so much influence?