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Low IQ politics makes perfect sense

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Key elements of low IQ politics with an illustration of Pauline Hanson.

I read an article recently which introduced me to a new phrase – Low IQ Politics. I had not heard this before, but it makes perfect sense.

Some key elements of low IQ politics are beliefs such as:

  • A particular ethnic minority is responsible for the majority of our problems
  • Stories about the sufferings of ethnic minorities are myths

These beliefs also tend to be associated with perspectives related to scepticism and a conspiracy view of the world – the various denier movements – climate change is an example. People with high IQs tend not to believe these things because, well, they just don’t make sense if you have any grasp of the rules of evidence.  The link between prejudice and low IQ can be shown empirically (e.g. Hodson and Busseri, 2012).

But why does it work? The answer is simple if you understand the bell curve of cognitive ability. There are lots of people with low cognitive ability.  If you think of low IQ as being the bottom 40% of the population that is a very big niche market for potential voters. Plenty enough to win some Senate seats.

Low IQs also tend to be associated with higher levels of negative behaviours. I wonder if that could be linked to some of the troubles Ms Hanson has experienced recently among her party members?

Cognitive ability is also an excellent predictor of success and failure at work. Click here to find out how to measure it.


Hodson, G. & Busseri, M.A. (2012). Bright minds and dark attitudes: Lower cognitive ability predicts greater prejudice through right-wing ideology and low intergroup contact. Psychological Science, 23, 187-195.

Originally posted: January 17, 2017

Andrew Marty

Managing Director at SACS Consulting

Andrew is a qualified psychologist who has over 25 years of human resource management consulting experience, including extensive senior executive search and selection experience.

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