Journal of Biosocial Science

Research Article



a1 Department of Management, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Psychology, University College London and Department of Psychology, Birkbeck College, University of London, UK


The origin of values and preferences is an unresolved theoretical question in behavioural and social sciences. The Savanna-IQ Interaction Hypothesis, derived from the Savanna Principle and a theory of the evolution of general intelligence, suggests that more intelligent individuals may be more likely to acquire and espouse evolutionarily novel values and preferences (such as liberalism and atheism and, for men, sexual exclusivity) than less intelligent individuals, but that general intelligence may have no effect on the acquisition and espousal of evolutionarily familiar values. Macro-level analyses show that nations with higher average intelligence are more liberal (have greater highest marginal individual tax rate and, as a result, lower income inequality), less religious (a smaller proportion of the population believes in God or considers themselves religious) and more monogamous. The average intelligence of a population appears to be the strongest predictor of its level of liberalism, atheism and monogamy.

(Online publication March 23 2009)