Understanding the right wing mind – a little more

There is an interesting rather old article in none other than the Mail online, which suggests that “right-wingers are less intelligent than left wingers”.

Perhaps I should just stop there… It is a peer reviewed study published in ‘Psychological Science‘ by academics at Brock University in Ontario, based on two cohorts of British children who were restudied in adulthood for their political views.

Dangerously to me perhaps, because the most recent study of the children was undertaken as long ago as 1970, it seems to be based on IQ tests, which I would have thought was dubious. The study also speaks of ‘innate intelligence’, which is another difficult concept, although one personally I’m happier with – but how on earth do you measure it?

But the more interesting part is:

…more right wing conservative ideologies ….. offer a psychological sense of stability and order.

I think this is the conclusion that rings true. Radical implies challenge, implies upset, often demands deep thinking. Many people don’t like challenge or change – it is threatening. Jogging along keeping things largely as they are is very much simpler and provided you are not suffering physical hardship, starving or overindebted requires little thought – you have all the more time to concentrate on doing the gardening or going to the cinema – or whatever else you enjoy. additionally as J.M. Keynes said, “it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally”.

It leads me to wonder about Brexit – which is quite radical. But it is also a belief system, which does seem to tally with most Conservatives, who usually declare themselves as Christian (even Michael Gove!) so are very used to belief systems – which by definition do not require challenge.

And then we know from our current government – all Brexiters and all part of a government of the talentless, and one which most of the world and increasing numbers at home, think is unserious in a crisis and third rate at best.

Perhaps it’s just that now no IQ test is even required.


  1. Samuel Johnson -

    Whatever about the their voters I have for some time felt that right wing politicians in the UK & US have been egregiously unprincipled. This YouTube video is a glorious, enjoyable and refreshing tonic that restores some hope:


    It’s a one hour Zoom chat with Rick Wilson of the Lincoln Project whose mission is to ensure Trump is not re-elected. He’s a Republican political campaigner, as are his colleagues in the project, including John McCain’s former presidential campaign manager Steve Schmitt.

    It is gleeful, funny, razor sharp, and above all, deeply principled. The ads they have produced are superb (follow @ProjectLincoln on Twitter). It deserves a wide audience and the project is one that could usefully be emulated in the UK – – and that shouldn’t mean in 4 years but starting as soon as Brexit chickens start coming home to roost, in the Scottish elections next May, and thereafter. Most of the financial support is small (average donation $41).





  2. Peter May -

    Looks very interesting. Thanks for the links!

  3. John Turning -

    You claim that Brexit is a belief system. I support Brexit but can make a good case that it is indeed a belief system as you say albeit backed up by evidence and experience from those European countries that avoided both post-war communism and EU membership.
    But what is the counter claim – that EU membership, that centralisation of landowner subsidies, that centralisation of protectionism for the recipients of the hand outs, that centralisation of regulations – that thinking those EU things are good ideas is not a belief system? Really?
    Go on then, break my faith.

    1. Peter May -

      Are there any European countries which are not EU members that do not have agreements with the EU?
      Of course the EU (along with UK democracy) has many faults but centralisation of regulations is not one of them. The EU is the regulatory superpower – for the world. We’ll never escape their regulations any more than the Americans can. By leaving we just have no input into them.

      The EU is not a belief system – it is just patently obvious that stopping the co-operation with local neighbours just allows us all to be poorer. As we are finding out.

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