Lower emotional intelligence linked to prejudiced, right-wing views, study finds
The study is among the first to explore the relationship between emotional abilities, political ideologies, and prejudice.
- New research measured the emotional and cognitive abilities, as well as the political ideologies, of nearly 1,000 Belgian undergraduate students.
- The results showed that students who scored lower on the cognitive and emotional tests were more likely to measure higher on tests measuring right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation.
- Still, the study only showed an association, and couldn't establish causality.
People who score lower on emotional intelligence tests are more likely to hold right-wing and prejudice attitudes, according to new research.
Psychologists have long been interested in how personality traits and cognitive abilities relate to political ideologies and prejudice. Past research, for example, has shown that people with lower cognitive abilities are more likely to hold right-wing and prejudiced attitudes. But relatively few studies have examined how emotional intelligence factors into the mix.
The new study, published in the journal Emotion, is one of the first to show that people with deficits in emotional abilities — like people with deficits in cognitive abilities — are more likely to hold right-wing and prejudiced views.
The results echo those of a similar 2017 study, which indicated that people who scored lower in trait Emotional Intelligence were more likely to hold right-wing and subtly racist views. Why? People with lower emotional intelligence have less empathy and are less able to assume the perspective of others, the authors suggested.
In the new study, the researchers assessed the political ideologies and emotional abilities of 983 Belgian undergraduates. To measure emotional abilities, the participants took three tests: the Situational Test of Emotional Understanding, the Situational Test of Emotion Management, and the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test. Here's an example question from the Situation Test of Emotional Understanding:
"Charles is meeting a friend to see a movie. The friend is very late and they are not in time to make it to the movie. Charles is most likely to feel? [A] Depressed [B] Frustrated x [C] Angry [D] Contemptuous [E] Distressed."
In a second part of the study, the participants' emotional and cognitive abilities were measured. The results showed that participants who scored lower on the emotional abilities tests — particularly ones measuring emotional understanding and management — were more likely to score higher on measures of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation.
Generally, people who score high in right-wing authoritarianism are especially willing to submit to political authorities and be hostile toward people outside of their in-groups. Meanwhile, those who score high in social dominance orientation tend to dislike egalitarianism and prefer inequality within and between social groups.
"The results of this study were univocal. People who endorse authority and strong leaders and who do not mind inequality — the two basic dimensions underlying right-wing political ideology — show lower levels of emotional abilities," study author Alain Van Hiel, a professor at the University of Ghent told PsyPost.
What's more, people who scored lower on the cognitive and emotional tests were more likely to agree with statements such as, "the white race is superior to all other races." Still, Van Hiel cautioned that the study couldn't establish causality.
"Of course, caution should be exercised in the interpretation of such results," Van Hiel said. "One cannot discredit any ideology on the basis of such results as those presently obtained. Only in a distant future we will be able to look back upon our times, and then we can maybe judge which ideologies were the best. Cognitively and emotionally smart people can make wrong decisions as well."
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Whether or not women think beards are sexy has to do with "moral disgust"
- A new study found that women perceive men with facial hair to be more attractive as well as physically and socially dominant.
- Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength, social assertiveness, and formidability.
- Women who display higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, are more likely to prefer hairy faces.
Beards and perceptions of masculinity<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg0MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzkxMjM3N30.cH-GqNwP5GVqvstgJWAhBPn1B_lYpVEAI0I7iax7EQw/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C1900%2C0%2C849&height=700" id="caae6" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="cb0a355a4e8e1899789bc45f3f7aef56" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo Credit: Wikimedia<p>The study used 919 American (mostly white) women ages 18-70 who rated 30 pictures of men they were shown with various stages of facial hair growth. The photographs depicted men with faces that had been digitally altered to look more feminine or more masculine, with a beard and without a beard. The women rated the men according to perceived attractiveness for long-term and short-term relationships. The study found that the more facial hair the men had, the higher the men were rated on their attractiveness, particularly for their suitability for a long-term relationship.</p><p>Part of this might be attributed to facial masculinity — i.e. protruding brow ridge, wide cheekbones, thick jawline, and deeply set narrow eyes — which conveys information to a woman about a man's underlying health and formidability. Women tend to associate more masculine faces with physical strength and social assertiveness. It can also indicate a man with a superior immune response. The researchers suggested that their findings favoring bearded men could be due to the fact that facial hair enhances the masculine facial features on a man's face, like creating the illusion of a thicker jaw line. This could communicate direct benefits to women like resources and protection that would enhance survival among mothers and their infants. In other words, while a beard doesn't mean superior genetics in and of itself, it might be a primitive, ornamental way of saying, "Hey girl, I'm a testosterone-fueled lean, mean, pathogen fighting machine." <br></p><p>It could also be that a beard becomes its own destiny. The researchers in this study cite prior research that found that by growing a beard, men felt more masculine and had higher levels of serum testosterone, which was linked to a higher level of social dominance. They also tended to subscribe to more old-school beliefs about gender roles in their relationships with women as compared to men with clean-shaven faces.<span></span><br></p>
What does disgust have to do with beard preference?<p>Obviously, not all women dig beards. The researchers were particularly interested in what traits make a women prefer bearded men over clean-shaven faces. They looked into several factors including a woman's disgust levels on various concepts, her desire to become pregnant, and her exposure to facial hair in her personal life. </p><p>According to the study, women who were not into facial hair were turned-off by potential parasites or other critters they imagined could be in the hair or skin. Women ranking high on this "ectoparasite disgust" scale might have viewed beards as a sign of poor grooming habits. However, women who ranked higher in levels of "pathogen" did find the bearded men to be desirable, possibly because they perceived beards as a signal of good health and immune function. An intriguing discovery in the study was links to morality. Women who displayed higher levels of "moral disgust," or feelings of repugnance toward taboo behaviors, were more likely to prefer hairy faces. The authors opined that this could reflect a link between beardedness, politically conservative outlooks, and traditional views regarding performances of masculinity in heterosexual relationships.</p>
Additional findings<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMjU5OTg1My9vcmlnaW4uZ2lmIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDI1NjUyOX0.P9B8WbmJR0q4nfzYZKbuNSA-2SAigVWJgrQE-_Gxlds/img.gif?width=980" id="49143" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2ed3b1d6f20fc170bf2974646e565e8d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />Giphy<p>The correlations that existed between married and single women's rating on the attractiveness of beards were not particularly clear, although the researchers noted that single and married women who wanted children tended to find beards more attractive than the women who didn't want children. They also found that women with bearded husbands found beards to be more attractive, which might indicate that social exposure to beards influences how desirable they are perceived of as being. Or it could be that men with wives who like beards grow beards.</p><p>It's important to note that culture plays a huge role in how attractive women perceive certain male characteristics as being. This study looked at a small, culturally specific group of American women, so no big, universal claims should be made about masculinity, facial hair, and male desirability to women. However, research like this is important in highlighting how human grooming decisions are driven by much more than fashion trends. Sociobiological, economic, and ecological factors all play a part in the way we choose to present ourselves.</p>
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