Higher levels of childhood intelligence predict increased support for economic conservatism in adulthood

Gary Lewis, Tim Bates

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A number of studies have reported that higher intelligence is associated with socially liberal attitudes. Less clear, however, is whether this link extends to economic attitudes, although there are indications that higher intelligence is associated with economically conservative attitudes. Here in two large, longitudinal UK cohorts (each N > 7100) we assessed whether childhood intelligence predicted adulthood economic attitudes. In both cohorts we saw that higher levels of childhood (age 10-11) intelligence were related to higher levels of economic conservatism in adulthood (age 30-33). These effects were robust to the inclusion of potential confounders (sex, parental social class, childhood conduct problems). Moreover, this pathway was at least partially mediated by educational attainment and achieved social class/income. These findings confirm the importance of intelligence as an important phenotype for understanding the origins of economic attitudes. Implications for self-interest and rational-interest theories are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-41
Number of pages6
Early online date7 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2018

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