Samstag, 12. April 2014

Are acquiescent and extreme response styles related to low intelligence and education?

Are acquiescent and extreme response styles related to low intelligence and education?
Gerhard Meisenberg , Amandy Williams (2008)
Personality and Individual Differences


Several lines of evidence suggest that acquiescent and extreme response styles are related to low education or low cognitive ability. Using measures constructed from the World Values Survey, this hypothesis is examined both in comparisons among individuals and comparisons among countries. At the individual level, both acquiescent and extreme responding are positively related to age and negatively to education and income in most world regions. Both response styles are most prevalent in the less developed countries. At the country-level, extremity is best predicted by a low average IQ in the country, and acquiescence by a high level of corruption.


>Response styles are important for the interpretation of personality and attitude measures by self-report. The most commonly observed response styles, also described as response biases, are acquiescent and extreme responding. Acquiescence refers to (unthinking?) agreement with statements, and extremity to a preferential use of the end points of the scale.<

>In the United States, responses of Blacks and Hispanics are more extreme than those of non-Hispanic Whites (Bachman & O’Malley, 1984; Hui & Triandis, 1989; Marin, Gamba, & Marin, 1992).<

>Smith (2004) found that European countries consistently scored lowest on measures of acquiescence derived from six different surveys. The highest-scoring countries were those with lesser levels of economic development, such as Panama, Nigeria, the Philippines, Pakistan and Bangladesh.<


>Extremity and acquiescence were positively correlated, with r = 0.241 at the individual level (N = 79,053 respondents) and r = 0.601 at the country-level (N = 79 countries).<

>[Differences] between world regions are substantial: up to 1.52 within-country standard deviations for acquiescence and 1.33 standard deviations for extremity.<

>Both response biases are more prominent in economically less developed regions such as Africa, South Asia and the Middle East.<

>Table 4 shows that at the country-level, acquiescence is most closely associated with high corruption and somewhat less with low lgGDP and low education. Extreme response style shows a different pattern, being most strongly associated with IQ, less with education, and even less with lgGDP.<

>The relationships of the response styles with country-level characteristics were explored further. Regression models were started with IQ, education, lgGDP, corruption, the average of political freedom and democracy, and Communist history. Nonlinear effects of the predictors were modeled by the inclusion of quadratic terms. During development of the models, alternative measures of the same construct were explored to improve the fit, and non-predictors were dropped. Tables 5 and 6 show the best-fitting models.<

>Acquiescence is predicted independently by high corruption and to a lesser extent by low education.<

>Table 6 shows that extreme responding is related mainly to low intelligence. This confirms the impression from Table 4, and also the pattern in Table 1 showing that extreme responding is most prevalent in the world region with the lowest average IQ (sub-Saharan Africa, average IQ 67 according to Lynn, 2006), and least prevalent in the region with the highest IQ (East Asia, average IQ 105). The effect of education is curvilinear, reducing extreme responding at low levels of education but raising it among the most educated samples. Among the economic and political indicators, only corruption has a significant effect.<


>[The] negative association between education and acquiescence that had been reported by some investigators (Heaven, 1983; Javeline, 1999; Mirowsky & Ross, 1991; Watson, 1992) is a nearly worldwide phenomenon. Also extreme responding is favored by low education and low income in most countries (Table 3). Therefore, psychological factors related to education, such as intelligence, rationality, self-control or self-confidence, appear to suppress both acquiescent and extreme responses.<

>The observation that extreme responding is most closely related to low IQ at the country-level (Tables 4 and 6) suggests that it expresses a crude ”either-or thinking” that is oblivious to fine distinctions. This is confirmed by the observation that within countries, extreme responding is reduced in persons with higher education and/or higher income.<

>[Acquiescence] appears to be favored by a lack of self-confidence, self-esteem or assertiveness, or a habit of subordination and conformity to others, and only indirectly by low intelligence.<

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