Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Gay men are the smartest: I have long suspected that gay men are, on average, smarter than straights. This impression has come from several different places, but perhaps it has been sharpest when reading about English intellectual elites (e.g., Wilde, Forster, Keynes, Auden). The pattern is weaker for lesbians but seems plausible. The General Social Survey asked 8,500 people about sexual orientation and also gave them a vocabulary test, which is a rough measure of IQ. Here are the results:

Mean score (out of 10) on vocab test:
Gay men 6.67
Lesbians 6.55
Straight women 6.20
Straight men 6.10
Bisexual women 5.76
Bisexual men 5.38

With a standard deviation of roughly 2, gay men are clearly smarter (at least in verbal IQ) than their hetero counterparts, but the gap is not as big as, say, between Jews and non-Jews. (Jews averaged 7.65 on this test). Lesbians also outscore straight women, and as we have seen with other indicators of functioning, bisexual women and especially men fall to the bottom. While homosexuality does not seem to indicate maladjustment, bisexuality does.

Now it is possible that smarter people may reject convention more often than others and select themselves into homosexuality, but perhaps there is some other mechanism here. Perhaps homosexuals are drawn to environments that are more accepting of them which also happen to be rich verbally. One might argue that homosexuals enjoy the female advantage in verbal ability, but this must also apply to lesbians who have a high average, and both of these groups surpass straight females by quite a bit. Perhaps it's more self-selection for lesbians, and hyper-femaleness for gay men. Gay achievement might be explained by a fortunate combination of male competitive drive with female verbal fluency. Other ideas?


  1. Anonymous1:51 PM

    Not to continue with a stereotype, but what the hell: gay men are pretty creative as a group. Thank God, because we'd all be wearing Mao suits and have bowl cuts. I would say that as a group, gays have definitely contributed to culture/art in the US (except for robert Mapplethorpe).

  2. I would imagine that gay men have stronger visual imaginations than straight men on average. Helmuth Nyborg's research suggests that 3d skills are strongest in males, but in males with low to medium testosterone levels. Thus, football players aren't typically great designers or engineers.

  3. That gay men become smarter by being gay or that smarter men choose to be gay are both less plausible than the idea that people with a gay biological orientation have the same IQ as people with a straight biological orientation, but those who identify that way are the smarter ones, because smarter people can cope better with social noncomformity.

    The best way to test this is to leave out the self-labels on a good large sample and just measure arousal and IQ. I predict they would be unrelated.

  4. Anonymous1:54 PM

    I think both Jason, our blogger, and Steve are all right to some degree. Probably a small portion of the testable high gay-IQ is due to more intelligent gays being the ones with the resouces to live in noncoformity to society, but it really is impossible to conclude that gays and bisexuals do not have more verbal intelligence than straights. I question on this historical basis the findings for bisexual men.

    What percentage of great writers and artists were gay? Clearly many more than 3%. I would just make a rough guess of about 20-75%, depending on the artistic field. Poetry and novels would be on the lower end of around 20%, ballet, painting, and sculpture on the high end.

    It is not just the male competitive drive coupled with "feminine" verbal skills, but the greater male domination of the far-right of the bell curve.

    Females as intelligent as the bisexuals de Vere (Shakespere), Byron, and Wilde and the gays Da Vinci and Francis Bacon are virtually nonexistant.

    Also in Ancient Greece bisexual pederasty may have been the upper-class norm, but many of the great philosopher-poets such as Pythogorus and Zeno were exclusively homosexual.

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  7. Anonymous9:39 AM

    According to legendary literary critic Harold Bloom 35 to 40% of major Western authors were gay.

    Here is the video:

  8. I ran into your blog because I went looking for info on Gays and high IQ.I have to say you made a very good point.But there are exceptions to all rules.I am a 47 year old bi and transgendered male.When I last had my IQ tested it was 156(down from 163 several years ago...watching too much TV!).
    I am an ultra social person.People have said I can talk to anyone about anything.
    I only came out on April 4 of this year.One possible reason for my high IQ is that,in trying to hide my true sexual indentity I did all I could to do "manly things". I can fix cars.I was in the Army for 7 years.I have an incredible memory for military history.I am smart,funny,charming and,as a homecare nurse for 6 years,I would go into people's homes and they would warn me about their "meanest dog on the planet".30 seconds later the dog is lying in my lap and the owners are gob-smacked.
    Rather than trying to de-construct the reasons for these things I like to fantasize that gays,lesbians,bi,and transgendered are a race of angels sent here to make the world a little more tolerable.

  9. John Doe10:32 AM

    I'm no mental health expert but Brian seems like a troubled person. ;) I'm trying to get the GSS, thanks for mentioning it throughout your blog. Cheers.

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