Education, Intelligence, and Attitude Extremity

38 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2012 Last revised: 13 Dec 2012

Michael D. Makowsky

Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics

Stephen Miller

Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University

Date Written: December 13, 2012

Abstract

Education and general intelligence both serve to inform opinions, but do they lead to greater attitude extremity? We use questions on economic policy, social issues, and environmental issues from the General Social Survey to test the impact of education and intelligence on attitude extremity, as measured by deviation from centrist or neutral positions. Using quantile regression modeling, we find that intelligence is a moderating force across the entire distribution in economic, social, and environmental policy beliefs. Completing high school strongly correlates to reduced extremity, particularly in the upper quantiles. College education increases attitude extremity in the lower tail of environmental beliefs. The relevance of the low extremity tail (lower quantiles) to potential swing-voters and the high extremity tail (upper quantiles) to a political party’s core are discussed.

Keywords: Public Opinion, Voter Cognition, Attitude Extremity, Voter Education

JEL Classification: D72, D83

Suggested Citation

Makowsky, Michael D. and Miller, Stephen, Education, Intelligence, and Attitude Extremity (December 13, 2012). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2145529 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2145529

Michael D. Makowsky (Contact Author)

Clemson University - John E. Walker Department of Economics ( email )

Clemson, SC 29634
United States

HOME PAGE: http://michaelmakowsky.com

Stephen Miller

Johnson Center for Political Economy, Troy University ( email )

Sorrell College of Business
059 Bibb Graves Hall
Troy, AL AL 36082
United States
18282266075 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.stevecmiller.com

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