Jedinger A, Burger AM. Do Smarter People Have More Conservative Economic Attitudes? Assessing the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Economic Ideology. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. September 2021. https://doi.org/10.1177/01461672211046808
Evidence on the association of cognitive ability with economic attitudes is mixed. We conducted a meta-analysis (k = 20, N = 46,426) to examine the relationship between objective measures of cognitive ability and economic ideology and analyzed survey data (N = 3,375) to test theoretical explanations for the association. The meta-analysis provided evidence for a small positive association with a weighted mean effect size of r = .07 (95% CI = [0.02, 0.12]), suggesting that higher cognitive ability is associated with conservative views on economic issues, but effect sizes were extremely heterogeneous. Tests using representative survey data provided support for both a positive association of cognitive ability with economic conservatism that is mediated through income as well as for a negative association that is mediated through a higher need for certainty. Hence, multiple causal mechanisms with countervailing effects might explain the low overall association of cognitive ability with economic political attitudes.