News just in, guar­an­teed to stir smug nods from non-​​believers and incite irri­ta­tion among the devout: intel­li­gence cor­re­lates neg­a­tively with reli­gious belief. You may have seen sim­ilar — or con­tra­dic­tory — reports in the past. That’s because scores of studies have asked if reli­giosity is asso­ci­ated with intel­li­gence. But a just-​​published meta-​​analysis in Per­son­ality and Social Psy­chology Review con­sid­ered the evi­dence from 63 dif­ferent studies. Overall, the meta analysis estab­lishes the exis­tence of a “reli­able neg­a­tive rela­tion between intel­li­gence and religiosity”.

Uni­ver­sity of Rochester psy­chol­o­gists Miron Zuck­erman and Jordan Sil­berman, together with Judtih A. Hall from Boston’s North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, gath­ered 80 years of pub­lished studies that esti­mate cor­re­la­tions between reli­gious belief or behavior (like atten­dance at reli­gious ser­vices) and intel­li­gence. By intel­li­gence, they mean ana­lytic intel­li­gence, also known as the g-​​factor, which cap­tures the “ability to reason, plan, solve prob­lems, think abstractly, com­pre­hend com­plex ideas, learn quickly and learn from expe­ri­ence.” Only 2 of the 63 studies found sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant pos­i­tive cor­re­la­tions between reli­giosity and intel­li­gence, whereas 35 showed sig­nif­i­cant neg­a­tive correlations.

Intel­li­gence linked more tightly to reli­gious belief than reli­gious behavior. While some studies showed that smarter chil­dren were less likely to believe, the pat­tern was weakest among school-​​age sub­jects. The links grow stronger in adult­hood and remained strong at older ages. Intel­li­gence at one age also pre­dicted reli­giosity some years later — an addi­tional indi­ca­tion that intel­li­gence shapes religiosity.

Read the article at Huffington Post →