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Title: Cognitive ability and socio-political beliefs and attitudes
Author: Carl, Noah
ISNI:       0000 0004 6493 8065
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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The contribution of this thesis is to demonstrate the importance of cognitive ability (and psychometric traits in general) for understanding the distribution of socio-political beliefs and attitudes within society. For at least the past hundred years, sociologists have sought to explain social phenomena primarily, or indeed exclusively, with reference to social structures that can be considered as external to the individual. While this explanatory paradigm has proved invaluable for understanding many social phenomena, it is not without theoretical deficiency. Certain phenomena can only be fully understood with reference to stable psychological differences between individuals--what psychometricians call individual differences. Toward this end, the present thesis addresses the following research questions. First, are generalized trust and political attitudes associated with cognitive ability? Second, what are the functional forms of any relationships between cognitive ability and socio-political beliefs and attitudes? Third, does cognitive ability explain variance in these traits over and above the effect of traditional sociological covariates, such as age, gender and socioeconomic status? Fourth, can psychometric differences between individuals help to explain one particular well-documented empirical regularity (of very large effect size), namely the fact that individuals with liberal and left-wing views are overrepresented in academia? The thesis comprises nine separate papers: the first two chapters examine generalized trust, while the subsequent seven focus on political attitudes. It concludes by summarising the main findings, discussing important limitations, and outlining avenues for further research.
Supervisor: De Graaf, Nan Dirk ; Billari, Francesco Candeloro Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available