Britain’s elite cultural institutions – the BBC, universities, the national trust – are dominated by the woke. Since smart people tend to get ahead in life, you might assume the woke would have higher intelligence. Not so, according to a new study.
Louise Drieghe and colleagues surveyed 300 North Americans adults using the platform Mechanical Turk. To measure participants’ cognitive ability, they administered the Ammons Quick Test, which 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. 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 get mad when I hear someone use politically incorrect language,” and “I try to educate people around me about the political meaning of their words”.
Drieghe and colleagues’ 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, and a moderate negative correlation between cognitive ability and concern for political correctness. (The asterisks 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. They’re less woke.
One possibility is that this is only true among highly educated people. Indeed, 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? I can’t rule this out.
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?