According to Geoffrey Wodtke, a doctoral candidate in sociology at University of Michigan, high-ability whites are less likely to report prejudiced attitudes and more likely to say they support racial integration in principle.
"But they are no more likely than lower-ability whites to support open housing laws and are less likely to support school busing and affirmative action programs," Wodtke said.
The researcher analyzed data on the racial attitudes of more than 20,000 white respondents from the nationally representative General Social Survey.
He examined how their cognitive ability, as measured by a widely used test of verbal intelligence, was linked with their attitudes about African-Americans, and about different policies designed to redress racial segregation and discrimination.
The study suggested that high-ability whites were more likely than low-ability whites to reject residential segregation and to support school integration in principle, and they were more likely to acknowledge racial discrimination in the workplace.
It was found that in some cases, more intelligent whites were actually less likely to support remedial policies for racial inequality.
Wodtke said that there's a disconnect between the attitudes intelligent whites support in principle and their attitudes toward policies designed to realize racial equality in practice.
The study will be presented at the 108th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association.