Do people who make generalizations reflect their level of intelligence? Watch

Tim2341
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Intelligence is basically how a person can think about the complexity of matters. If you understood the true profile of a situation, I would reckon you'd have a hard time making glib generalizations that lead to extremities of emotional feeling.

We have a cognitive bias to make coherence from the incoherent (i.e, narrative), but what if making something coherent does an injustice to the reality of the situation.

If you look at IQ tests; they get more and more complex the harder they get, like juggling more and more balls. Almost like you're conceiving many thought elements at the same time.

Generalizations are easy to make and don't take much brain effort which reflect the limitations of a person's intellect and how simplistically they view the world. Judging from tabloid comments, you can see the general profile of intelligence of the readers who make comments, that is to say they do not display deep cognition but pure feeling and emotion. People who show more feeling than thought are not utilizing their intellect and this can lead to mistruths e.g. bias.

Also, there are people who have such strong convictions over speculative issues that it is very scary that people can be emote without reasoning.

Does the degree to which people make generalizations correlate with their level of intelligence?

NB. I'm not referring to things which can be objectively categorized e.g. colours of cats. But on subjects which reveal xenophobia and matters relating to politics.
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Emaemmaemily
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Personally I'd say that yes, the more that people make generalizations the more that reflects poorly on their intelligence and ability to understand life's complexities.
Of course, we all speak in general sometimes. But it is important to make a distinction that you understand that it (whatever you're saying) isn't a universal rule and doesn't apply to everyone/thing. The ability to do this, and understand that even if there is a general trend around an issue that doesn't make it a hard and fast rule does show a certain level of intelligence.

On the other hand, this is just one side to intelligence and knowledge. There could well be people who are not good at this side of critical thinking, but are at other aspects of things like an IQ test which could mean that they are actually very intelligent but in a different way to what you are talking about.

I do find myself thinking (or saying, depending on who it is) "that person is just stupid" if they make a ridiculous generalization sometimes. But then that is a generalization in itself, which is why I mentioned my "on the other hand" part above.
Essentially, we all generalize to a certain extent, because we all make judgments based on what we know/can see. The main difference is being aware that you're generalizing and being open to the idea that the generalization you've made could be wrong.
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Lyndonx
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Then you're just generalising the people who generalise...

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Tyrone2013
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(Original post by Tim2341)
Intelligence is basically how a person can think about the complexity of matters. If you understood the true profile of a situation, I would reckon you'd have a hard time making glib generalizations that lead to extremities of emotional feeling.

We have a cognitive bias to make coherence from the incoherent (i.e, narrative), but what if making something coherent does an injustice to the reality of the situation.

If you look at IQ tests; they get more and more complex the harder they get, like juggling more and more balls. Almost like you're conceiving many thought elements at the same time.

Generalizations are easy to make and don't take much brain effort which reflect the limitations of a person's intellect and how simplistically they view the world. Judging from tabloid comments, you can see the general profile of intelligence of the readers who make comments, that is to say they do not display deep cognition but pure feeling and emotion. People who show more feeling than thought are not utilizing their intellect and this can lead to mistruths e.g. bias.

Also, there are people who have such strong convictions over speculative issues that it is very scary that people can be emote without reasoning.

Does the degree to which people make generalizations correlate with their level of intelligence?

NB. I'm not referring to things which can be objectively categorized e.g. colours of cats. But on subjects which reveal xenophobia and matters relating to politics.
The real question should be which generalisations are allowed and which are not.

Of course the liberal left love to say that stupid people make generalisation while only counting the generalisations they don't like as generalisations.


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thesabbath
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Generalising, stereotyping, are valid forms of condensing a lifetime of experience and knowledge to make snap-judgements in a situation. One can deviate from these concepts if the situation demands it (new evidence springs to light), but that requires greater knowledge of the subject in question.

I would go so far as it is naive not to generalise (ignoring any information you have, even if that information is scant). You could weight it according to Bayesian probability maybe, if you are particularly enlightened.
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maskofsanity
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I fail to see how this will be of any use to anything.

Le't's say most people do indeed believe those who generalise are stupid - what will we do with this result? Will we go around generalising people who generalise by calling them all stupid?
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nexttime
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Whilst this may have some merit, to say that generalisations are never useful would be plainly false. They're critical in making predictions about populations and form the basis of all of our government, health, economics... everything.
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ckingalt
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(Original post by thesabbath)
Generalising, stereotyping, are valid forms of condensing a lifetime of experience and knowledge to make snap-judgements in a situation.
Solid response here. Many exceptionally intelligent people do this well. A generalization is a tool which contributes to efficiency. The decision to use that tool is far from an indication of intelligence. The truth is that someone who is completely unwilling or unable to make generalizations would be referred to as severely autistic.

People who scoff the idea of making generalizations are truly just against making certain generalizations.
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Millie228
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To an extent.

Everybody acts according to their experiences. It would be stupid not to. As someone once said, experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. You didn't get a promotion, or managed to escalate the relationship. But you have the experience, some more knowledge of people and what went wrong. You store this in the back of your head and when faced with similar scenarios, you look back at your experience. If people don't look to their experience, girls will date the same *******s over and over again, some people will never get that promotion, some people will never lose weight as they try the same approach. The definition of idiocy is to make the same attempt over and over again, expecting a different result. What I am saying here is, that if you have a certain experience with one type of people, you will use that experience and it is natural to do so. Everybody does. If a particular negative experience is related to people of a certain nationality, they will not speak up about about it, at the fear of being accused of racism. But they take their experience into consideration nonetheless.
Experiences will always beat research for most people, but research comes in at a close second. If both experience and research gives a certain idea of a type of people, I don't blame someone for making generalizations based on that.
In the end, we cannot know everybody first hand. We have to base our assumptions on a combination of experiences and research. For some reason, some people do not consider it wrong to make generalizations in positive terms ("Italian people have such a great sense of style") but it is considered wrong to make any negative one. They are both rooted in either experiences, stories or stereotypes, and one is not more wrong than another. The difference is one of them disagrees with politival correctness.

Another factor to consider is why someone is making a generalization. It may not be an actual idea of "all people are this way" as much as the possibility that "most of them are". I would guess that hardly anyone actually makes strong generalizations. The common belief is that "they're not all like that, but many enough for it to be something to look out for". I have never encountered a single person claiming that ALL Muslims are terrorists or that ALL poor people are lazy. They may come across that way in their argumentation, but it is hardly ever their point of view, and most people know that, deep down.

People will calculate risk against likeliness against loss. A woman may be waling down the street, alone, at 2 am on her way home. She sees a man coming in her direction, and she will take the phone out of her pocket and call someone or walk to the other side of the street. There is a chance the man may notice this. He may be upset that he is considered a threat, or if he's paranoid, upset that it is related to his appearance or ethnic background. I would not call this a "generalization". It doesn't mean that she is thinking "all men are potential predators" or that all men of his type are. But the possible horrible outcome is so terrible that his potential hurt feelings is a cost she'll calculate in as worth it. And it makes sense.
If a woman is raped, she may make sure she will never walk alone after midnight again. There is a good chance nothing would happen to her if she did, but is she crazy for doing so? As another example, let's say a guy from a working class background starts school in an area with a lot of 'posh kids'. The upper middle class guys makes remarks on his clothing, they ridicule his accent every time he raises his hand in class, they humiliate him in front of girls. In short, they make his life hell. When he is applying to uni, he makes sure the unis he's going to have students of all backgrounds and a mixed demographic group as he does not want to go through the same thing again. Is he generalizing upper middle class people and therefore an idiot? Or is he merely making choices based on experiences for his own good? Is it possible that his choice is made knowing that not ALL upper middle class people are like that, but many are, and many enough to avoid schools whose student demographic is very different from his own? When people having dating preferences, it is rarely questioned. But these preferences are, whether people admit to it or not, rooted in experiences and perceptions as much as attractions. When knowing about traditions within Muslim cultures, a Western girl who's used to absolute equality would avoid Muslim men. She may say it's rooted in attraction, and it may very well be, but the perceived cultural differences are a great part of it. If we would go out of our to disprove every perception we have, how much time and effort would it take? Would it be worth it? Am I suppose to date men of three different religions or national background to be sure I am not making a generalization when saying I prefer French men? It would be meaningless, while I would be spending my youth and fertile age on men I knew with high probability would not be right for me.
Anyone who say they do not possess any kind of generalization is lying. And they are necessary, to an extent.


There are subtle examples of dealing with experience, such as someone being screwed over by a car salesman and making sure they are asking extra questions next time they buy a car. There are extreme examples of it, such as a man being rejected by two women in one night and concluding that "all women are shallow sluts".
To me, it depends on the extent of the generalization. Dismissing an entire gender would be ridiculous, there are just as many men as women on the planet, so statements like "all men are *******s" or "all women are sluts" fall on their own irrationality.
A big part of intelligence is, in my opinion, being able to separate "in spite of" and "because of". A lot of people are incapable of this. Every time you bring an example such as "men don't like short hair", you'll get hit in the face with a snowflake comment along the lines of "my friend has short hair and boys love her" (by snowflake comment I mean "I am that special snowflake whose experience disproves all research ever made). Nevertheless, long hair signalizes femininity and fertility and men prefer it. Most likely, those men like her friend in spite of her hair, not because of it.


I am not entirely agreeing with your last statement. Logic and emotions are two different things, but there is a reason we are equipped with them both. There are matters which you must think of logically, and some you must think of emotionally. When you are dealing with other people and relating to them, you are using your intuition and combining your logical sense and your emotions. If nobody ever got in touch with the empathic side of themselves, the world would be a slaughterhouse.
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ssxx
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(Original post by Tim2341)
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Generalizations based on observing patterns are not a sign of low intelligence.
I think people who are extremely politically correct who refuse to generalize show how narrow minded and ignorant they are.
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truffle_girl
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This is an interesting one, because criticism of generalising has been hijacked by the 'PC Brigade', who scream "don't generalise!!!" at SELECT TYPES of generalisations (those which are not positive, and involve non-whites and/or women, basically....); which is ricidulous in terms of both its hypocrisy, and the way in which the definition of a 'generalisation' is extended to include speaking in terms of 'average', rather than explicitly stating that ALL members of a group do this or that (i.e. "black people, on average, commit more crime", "don't generalise!!!!!!!").

So, on that level, it's the misguided, sanctimonious, hypocritical types who "don't generalise!!!!".

On a wider level, generalising is something stupid people do more. For example, someone has ONE bad experience of ONE part of a business (say, with one customer service worker, in a call centre), and suddenly, the Customer Service function department, if not the whole business, is terribly inefficient.

A woman gets cheated on by ONE guy, and suddenly, "ALL men are cheating pigs!!!".

On a related note, there is a common inability to understand the 'on average' concept. For example, stupider people will deny the link between, say, eating unhealthily and smoking, and premature death, by saying things like, "my grandma ate badly and smoked all her life, and lived to be 82! So these things don't make you die earlier!".

Speaking in terms of 'on average' is perfectly logical, in many areas; DISMISSING this concept, based on exceptions, or a sanctimonious "don't generalise!!!" attitude, is not.
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Plantagenet Crown
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Not necessarily, society judges and generalise a lot, and that inevitably rubs off on some people, irrespective of intelligence.
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sugar-n-spice
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How is being capable of noticing relationships and patterns in things a sign of low intelligence? :lolwut:
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paradoxicalme
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I think we're a little too politically correct on the subject of some generalisations. There's a difference between generalising and stereotyping. Generalising is a natural way of simplifying issues, and I would actually argue that not generalising reflects badly on your social skills, since you're portraying anyone who can't understand what you're saying as moronic. Saying smokers have health problems is a generalisation, since many do, but some don't. Saying women are soft or gay people are camp is a stereotype, not a generalisation.
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usernme_
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steryotyping will make u stupid i know this for a fact , quiet girl = good girl (i was quiet all through school i was also always in detention , skving , eating in class , coping other peoples work when i was lazy and i also did a bit of shop lifiting im not proud of that but it happend) quiet also seems to mean stupid when i was getting really high grades and everyone would always act shocked if they ever found out about this or if i knew the answer to somthign they diddnt
also blonde means dumb but looking around i see some blondes at school or in other places who are actualy smart and sometimes manipulative people think cos thier girly , blonde , low cut tops ect... theat they must be dumb and then these girls end up manipulatign schemeing and getting people to fall for all their tricks cos they just diddnt see them as capable iv also seen intelligent blondes get ignored in class
i think everyone knows racial steryotypes are always stupid (especialy people who have always been around people of all races their lives
there are more examples but i defintly think people who steryotype are setting themselfs up for looking foolish
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truffle_girl
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(Original post by paradoxicalme)
I think we're a little too politically correct on the subject of some generalisations. There's a difference between generalising and stereotyping. Generalising is a natural way of simplifying issues, and I would actually argue that not generalising reflects badly on your social skills, since you're portraying anyone who can't understand what you're saying as moronic. Saying smokers have health problems is a generalisation, since many do, but some don't. Saying women are soft or gay people are camp is a stereotype, not a generalisation.
A good post....although, let's be honest, gay guys DO tend to be camp.
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The Angry Stoic
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Generalising is natural and evolutionarily prudent. A lion are my dad so I should fear lions. A black guy mugged me so I should fear black guys.

Obviously that's racist and completely wrong but it's left over from our primitive monkey brains.

Humans suck at statistics.
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desdemonata
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You brought up the IQ test... you do realise a large part of it is pattern recognition.
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Tim2341
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(Original post by Lyndonx)
Then you're just generalising the people who generalise...

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I could foresaw this comment.

Isn't this the case though that you need a certain degree of complex thinking in order to understand a multi-variable situation and to comprehend it requires a superior intelligence.
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Tim2341
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(Original post by desdemonata)
You brought up the IQ test... you do realise a large part of it is pattern recognition.
you're revealing a basic level of thinking.

Of course I know it's pattern recognition. Simple pattern recognition is something most people have, everybody knows 1 +1 = 2 etc. Everyone can do that. There is basic pattern recognition and there is complex pattern recognition, everything is pattern recognition, what separates the two types is the ability to entertain complexity of multiple components, strands, timelines etc. The numerical dimension is the distinguishing factor. There is a correlation between the idea of complexity and quantity.

It's just some have so many variables, from my every day chitchat, I don't think most people have this level of intelligence to entertain

But not everyone can do degree level maths, that level of maths requires many components of the mind working at the same time. It requires focus, attention and obsessive persistence. To really think around any situation requires an obssesiveness, not everybody has this ability. Complex deep cognition. It takes persistence to follow news stories, follow the narrative and arguments, the inconsistencies, the irregularities, the patterns of irregularities, the patterns of consistencies. The history of the situation in question. All this requires specific mental personalities and abilities/ traits.

Maths is one abstract example, I'm sure there are Philosophically/Science astute people will recognize how difficult it is to come to conclusions based on multiple factors, known and unknown.

The higher order pattern recognition has many more variables to it, more elements to juggle. Not everybody can do PHD level maths, that's because those people who can do it have that higher level ability to recognize the complex array of variables.

I've repeated several points here, but I'm thinking cyclically about this as I type.
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