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Racial Differences in Intelligence, Personality, and Behavior

Racial differences in intelligence, personality, and behavior have been discussed since ancient times. In the second century A.D. the Greek physician Galen wrote that black Africans are less intelligent than Europeans. In the Middle Ages a number of Persian and Arabic writers took the same view, and in the thirteenth century the Persian geographer Nasir al-Din Tusi went to far as to assert that black Africans were less intelligent than apes. The first to attempt to quantify race differences in intelligence was Sir Francis Galton in his Hereditary Genius (1869). He estimated the intelligence of several populations from the numbers of intelligent individuals as a proportion of the population. He concluded that the Greeks of the classical period were the most highly intelligent people that have ever appeared and that the lowland Scots were slightly more intelligent than the English. He considered sub-Saharan Africans to be much less intelligent and the Australian Aborigines the least intelligent race. Galton did not make any estimate of the intelligence of the American Indians or Orientals. However, he considered the Chinese a highly intelligent people. In a letter published in The Times in 1873 he wrote that “The Chinaman is endowed with a remarkable aptitude for a high material civilization. He is seen to the least advantage in his own country, where a temporary dark age still prevails, which has not sapped the genius of the race though it has stunted the development of each member of it by a rigid enforcement of an effete system of classical education which treats originality as a crime.” Galton’s estimates are quite close to those obtained in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries from intelligence tests.

Race Differences in Intelligence

The first intelligence test was devised in France by Alfred Binet in 1905. This served as a model for a number of tests that were constructed from the 1910s onward in the United States, Britain, and other economically developed nations. From the 1920s numerous investigators administered tests to samples of races throughout most of the world, and a considerable amount of evidence has accumulated on their average IQs. The results of these studies are summarized in the table. The IQs are based on an IQ of 100 for British and American Europeans. These IQs are averages obtained from several hundred studies.

Race IQ
Orientals 105
Europeans 97
American Indians 90
Southeast Asians 87
Afro-Americans 85
Pacific Islanders 85
South Asians 85
North Asians 84
Sub-Saharan Africans 70
Australian Aborigines 62


The Oriental peoples of China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore have the highest IQ, 105. About the same IQ is obtained from ethnic Orientals in the United States. The high IQ of Orientals is manifested in their considerable educational attainments in math and science. In the United States they have higher average educational qualifications and earnings than Europeans and are over-represented in elite colleges and in the professions. Because they do so well and have low rates of crime, they have become known as the “model minority” and are excluded from the affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to blacks and Hispanics in admission to colleges and employment.

It is a puzzle that despite the high IQ of Oriental peoples, it was the European peoples who pioneered the industrial revolution and made virtually all the intellectual advances in science, mathematics, and technology during the last five hundred years or so. Viewed over a longer historical period, this anomaly is less of a problem. From around 1500 B.C. to around A.D. 1500, the Chinese, who are the great majority of Orientals, have been either as advanced as or more advanced than Europeans. About 1500-1100 B.C., at a time when Europeans were still living in villages on subsistence agriculture, the Shang dynasty was developed on the Hwang (Yellow) river. This early civilization was sustained by domesticated millet, rice, pigs, cattle, sheep, water buffalo, and chickens. It had towns with substantial buildings, bronze utensils, and glazed pottery turned on the wheel. It used cowry shells for money and devised a written language that formed the basis of the later Chinese characters. In 202 B.C. the Han dynasty was established as an extensive empire covering contemporary China and Korea and had a population of about sixty million. The capital city at Changan had a perimeter of approximately 25 kilometers and contained a number of pavilions as high as 115 meters. The empire contained numerous cities linked by roads and canals, and the Great Wall was built. Manufactures included iron ploughs, cooking stoves, tools and weapons, silk, carts, and ships. To administer this empire, the Chinese established the system of appointing mandarins as officials to administer the provinces. To ensure that these officials were men of high ability, a system of competitive written examinations was introduced to recruit an intellectual elite for the mandarin class.

The Han dynasty lasted until A.D. 220, but there was no dark age in China such as descended on Europe with the fall of Rome in 476 and the closure of the school in Athens in 529, after which the learning of Greece and Rome was largely lost in Western Europe. After these calamities in Europe, for a period of around a thousand years from the sixth to the sixteenth century A.D., civilization in China was more advanced than in Europe. “A thousand years ago, the Chinese were well ahead of anyone else—and certainly of Europe,” writes the historian David Landes. When Marco Polo visited China about the year 1300, he was amazed at the quality of civilization in the numerous prosperous cities and particularly by the use of paper money, a concept not introduced into Europe until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Among the important inventions and discoveries made by the Chinese during this period, well before they were invented in Europe, were printing; mills driven by water for shaking and sifting flour; an extensive series of canals with locks, principally running north-south and linking the Huang Ho and Yangtze rivers; the suspension bridge supported with iron chains; the stirrup; the formula for making gunpowder, which was used to produce rockets, bombs, and small firearms shooting bullets from bamboo and metal tubes and to fire cannon; the magnetic compass for navigation at sea; methane gas for lighting; the spinning wheel; the water-powered mechanical clock; and the manufacture of porcelain.

The reasons why Chinese science, technology, and mathematics petered out and the lead passed to Europe from about the year 1500 onwards are difficult to explain. As the historian Hugh Thomas has written, “The failure by the Chinese to exploit their great advantages …will remain one of the great problems of history.” There were three factors that must have made significant contributions to the decline of China and the rise of Europe. The first was that for some fifteen hundred years the curriculum for the examinations for the mandarinate comprised astronomy, mathematics, Chinese literature, and Chinese history. In the early fourteenth century the mandarins responsible for the curriculum decided to drop astronomy and mathematics and confine it to Chinese literature and history. This had two effects. One was that from this time onwards the mandarinate consisted of men with literary interests and abilities who had no knowledge of astronomy and mathematics or of science generally, or interest in promoting it. A second was that the Chinese schools that prepared students for the examinations for the mandarinate stopped teaching astronomy and mathematics and ceased to be centers for teaching and research in these fields, with the result that knowledge of them largely came to an end. A further factor that contributed to China’s economic, cultural, and intellectual stagnation was that China was a unitary authoritarian state whose rulers frequently opposed economic and intellectual progress and were able to prevent its development.


The European peoples in Europe, North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand have an average IQ of 97. The IQ of Europeans is highest in north and west Europe, including Italy and Spain, where it is about 100, and falls off to around 95 in east and southeast Europe. The reason for this is probably that east and southeast Europe have been impoverished by communism, which has had an adverse environmental impact on the intelligence of peoples because of poor nutrition. Several explanations have been proposed for the problem that from around the year 1500, Europeans made virtually all the important discoveries in economic development, science, mathematics, and technology. One factor was that from the thirteenth century onwards numerous universities were founded in Europe. In addition to literature and theology, these taught astronomy, mathematics, and also medicine, which gave students a grounding in chemistry. These universities provided a basic education for numerous generations of students and provided professorships for many of the leading scholars who made advances in astronomy, mathematics, and science. Copernicus entered the University of Cracow in 1491, where he studied mathematics and optics; Galileo studied mathematics at the University of Pisa in the 1580s and was later appointed professor at this and other Italian universities; Kepler studied mathematics at the University of Tubingen in the 1580s and was appointed professor of mathematics at the University of Graz in 1593; in 1661 Isaac Newton entered Cambridge University, where he studied mathematics and was appointed professor of mathematics in 1669.

A second significant factor accounting for the advances in science, technology, and mathematics in Europe was that Europe consisted of a large number of independent nation states. The diversity of states in Europe meant that if science was discouraged in some, it was able to flourish in others. For instance, in Spain the Roman Catholic Church was unsympathetic to scientific inquiry, with the result that Spain made very little contribution to scientific and mathematical developments. But there were plenty of other countries in Europe where scientific and mathematical advances were able to take place. A further effect of the numerous independent nations in Europe was that these were constantly at war with one another, whereas China generally consisted of a single state and was less frequently involved in warfare. The rulers of the European states were keen to buy new scientific and technological military products to prosecute their wars more effectively. This provided a market for the development of new military technologies, a number of which were developed by army and naval officers. For instance, the mirror sextant for navigation at sea was invented by the Scottish naval officer John Campbell in 1737, and the breechloading rifle was invented in 1776 by the British army officer Patrick Ferguson. In 1714 the British government offered a prize of £20,000 for the invention of an instrument that would give an accurate measure of a ship’s longitude at sea, a prize won by John Harrison.

A number of military inventions had more general applications beyond their military use. For instance, the principle of the cannon, which was developed in Europe for warfare on land and sea, is similar to that of the piston-operated steam engine invented by the English engineer Thomas Newcomen in 1712 and to the later internal combustion engine, in so far as both involve an explosion propelling a solid object through a tube. From the sixteenth century onwards, a significant number of the scientific and technological advances in Europe and, later, in the United States, were motivated and financed for military purposes, culminating in the government-funded atomic power and space research programs of the second half of the twentieth century.

American Indians

The IQ of American Indians in both North and South America is 92. This may seem high considering the generally poor social and economic performance of these peoples. This is largely because in the United States and Canada many of them live on reservations where they have become welfare dependent with high rates of unemployment, alcoholism, and other drug addictions. In South America many of them have become enervated by their dependence on cocaine obtained by chewing the leaves of the coca plant. The demoralized state of many of these peoples today makes it difficult to believe that their ancestors built the empires of the Incas, Mayas, and Aztecs. The intelligence test results tell us that they were sufficiently intelligent to have accomplished this, but many of them seem to have personality problems that make them unable to compete in societies dominated by Europeans.

Southeast Asians

The Southeast Asians are the peoples of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Borneo. Their average IQ is 87. Their intelligence is a little higher than that of the South Asians (IQ 82) because they have some genetic admixture from Oriental peoples from China. Civilizations were developed in Southeast Asia from around 250 B.C. (Scarr, 1995). The first walled town in Southeast Asia was built about this time at Co Loa in present-day Vietnam and the ruins of a number of its stone buildings survive. The city state of Peithano developed in the first five centuries A.D. in present-day Burma. The city was surrounded by a brick wall and comprised an area of approximately 800 hectares. The period from the ninth to the fourteenth centuries A.D. saw the establishment of several extensive civilizations. The most highly developed was the Khmer empire based in present-day Cambodia, which extended some thousand miles from east to west from present-day Vietnam through to southern Thailand and Burma. Its capital was the city of Angkor, founded in the year 802. In the next two centuries it grew to a size of approximately eight square kilometers and had an estimated population of between 80,000 and 150,000. From the year 1000 it grew further to a size of approximately 250,000 square kilometers and a population of around one million. The city contained numerous substantial stone buildings, and the civilization had a written language, metal working for making armor, agricultural implements, tools, and other artifacts, and it used money. Its capital Angkor was attacked and sacked by an army from Thailand in the year 1431. The emperor and the survivors abandoned the city and established a new capital farther south. A large number of substantial stone buildings and temples with elaborate carvings depicting Khmer soldiers wearing armor, markets, fishing, and cock fighting survive to this day. Much of the written language of the Khmer civilization survives on inscriptions on the stone buildings.

Pacific Islanders

The Pacific Islanders are the indigenous peoples of the numerous Pacific islands, the principal of which are New Zealand, the groups of islands of Micronesia, Melanesia, Polynesia, and Hawaii, and the isolated Easter Island. These islands were uninhabited by humans until about 1500-1000 B.C., when Micronesia, Melanesia, and western Polynesia began to be settled by Southeast Asian peoples from Indonesia. It was not until about A.D. 650 that all the major islands of Polynesia were settled. The last of the Pacific islands to be colonized was New Zealand, which was settled about A.D. 850 by Polynesians who were the ancestors of the contemporary Maoris. Numerically, the Pacific Islanders are one of the minor races, numbering about 1.5 million.

The Pacific Islanders’ IQ of 85 is very close to that of the Southeast Asians, (87) from whom they originated and to whom they are closely related. In New Zealand the Maoris have lower educational attainment than white New Zealanders. In the 1991 census 79 percent of them had no high school or other educational qualifications compared with 61 percent of Europeans. The cultural achievements of the Pacific Islanders were not so advanced as those of the Southeast Asians. When they were discovered by Europeans, none of them had made the full transition from hunter-gatherers to settled agriculture supporting substantial towns, and they had no written language or numbers. However, many of the islanders, including the Maoris, were cultivating the taro, yam, and sweet potato. Their boat construction and navigation, which enabled them to cross thousands of miles of ocean, were impressive. Probably the reason the Pacific Islanders did not make the same advances toward civilization as the Southeast Asians is that they were isolated as small populations, typically of a few thousand on widely dispersed islands, and were not sufficiently numerous to make substantial technological, scientific, and cultural progress.

South Asians and North Africans

The South Asians are the peoples of Bangladesh in the east through India, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, the Gulf states, the Near East, and Turkey. They are closely related to the Europeans and some of the classical anthropologists have combined them with Europeans as Caucasoids. However, their average IQ of 84 is much lower than that of Europeans, and they are best treated as a separate race. These peoples built some of the earliest civilizations in Sumeria in present-day Iraq, in Egypt, and in the Indus valley, but from around the year 500 B.C. their achievements have been unimpressive. It is true that from around A.D. 750 through A.D. 1200 the South Asians established a large empire that stretched from the Indus valley through North Africa to Spain, with its capital city in Baghdad. During this time they produced a number of scholars, but none of the first rank, and they were largely custodians of the intellectual advances made by the Greeks in the period between approximately 500 B.C. to A.D. 500. Nor did they produce any major scientific or technological discoveries or any great works of literature, except perhaps the Thousand and One Nights.

The North Africans have the same IQ of 84 as the South Asians. This is to be expected as they are very closely related genetically. Like the South Asians, they built one of the most impressive early civilizations, in Egypt, but they have achieved little during the last three thousand years.

It may seem anomalous that the South Asians and North Africans, who have quite low IQs, should have built the first civilizations at a time when the Europeans and Japanese, who have higher IQs today, were still living as hunter-gatherers. The explanation for this is that the first civilizations were developed along the river valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, the Indus, the Nile, and the Hwang (Yellow) river. These had extensive flood plains on which fertile alluvial deposits were left each year on which agricultural surpluses could be produced for the towns in which the civilizations developed. The first civilization that was built without this advantage was developed by Europeans in Crete. At the time these early civilizations were built, Europe and Japan were covered with forests that made it impossible to grow the agricultural surpluses capable of supporting towns.

Sub-Saharan Africans

The sub-Saharan Africans in Africa have an average IQ of about 70 and, in the Caribbean, an average IQ of about 72, while Afro-Americans (blacks) in the United States have an average IQ of 85. There are two reasons why the IQ of Afro-Americans is higher than that of Africans in sub-Saharan Africa. The first is that Afro-Americans have an admixture of about 25 percent of European genes, which increases their IQs. Afro-Americans with more European ancestry and lighter skins have higher IQs than those with darker skins. The second reason that the IQ of Afro-Americans is higher than that of sub-Saharan Africans is that they live in an affluent society run by Europeans that provides them with good nutrition, education, standard of living, and other environmental advantages.

The low IQ of sub-Saharan Africans is consistent with their failure to make any of the advances of civilization. When Europeans began to explore sub-Saharan Africa from the late eighteenth century onwards, they found that the peoples were in a transitional stage between hunter-gatherer and agricultural societies. None of these peoples had devised a written language or numbers. African languages are simple and lack complex abstract nouns. Typically there are words for only a few colors such as red, white, and black, but no words for subtle shades of color. The arithmetical systems typically have words for one and two, while larger numbers are expressed as “many.” No sub-Saharan Africans have made any significant discoveries in science, mathematics, or technology.

When first described by European explorers like Mungo Park and John Speke in the early nineteenth century, many Africans in West Africa were living in villages, and there were some towns with a few thousand inhabitants. There was farming of rice, sorghum, and pearl millet, and the guinea fowl had been domesticated. Iron was smelted in equatorial Africa about 500 B.C. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries some good quality bronzes were made in Benin. It is generally considered that this technology came originally from the Arabs, who introduced it into the Sudan, from which it was transported to West Africa. The problem of whether the low IQ of sub-Saharan Africans has a genetic basis has been discussed since the 1920s. The definitive study to resolve this issue was carried out in the United States by Sandra Scarr at Yale in the 1970s and 1980s. She examined the IQs of black infants in Minnesota and other northern states adopted by white middle-class couples. Her expectation was that they would have much higher IQs, but she found that at the age of seventeen and eighteen their IQs were just the same as those of other blacks in the northern states (which are a little higher than those of blacks in the south, because it was the more intelligent blacks who migrated north after the abolition of slavery). This was a disappointing result for Scarr, who had said that if she ever came to the conclusion that there was a genetic basis for the low black IQ, she would emigrate from the United States. Her result convinced her that the low black IQ must have a genetic basis. She has yet to buy her one-way ticket, but she has done the next best thing by retiring from academic life and moving to the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

Australian Aborigines

The Australian Aborigines are the least intelligent of the races, with an average IQ of 62. Their low intelligence was evident to the Europeans who discovered Australia in the late eighteenth century and found the Aborigines living as hunter-gatherers in a stone age without pottery, agriculture, or metals. They did not plant seeds to grow food or keep herds of animals. Their stone implements were the axe, knife, and small flakes mounted as barbs of spearheads. Their weapons consisted of clubs, spears, spear throwers, and throwing sticks, including the boomerang. They never invented the bow and arrow. Women used digging sticks to uproot yams and other roots. They never domesticated the dingo, the wild dog of Australia. They had no written language or numerals. Their languages were lacking in abstract concepts and had few collective nouns, indicative of an inability to formulate general concepts that is one of the principal characteristics of intelligence. Their languages had numbers only for one and two. Consistent with their low IQ, the Australian Aborigines have poor educational attainment and high rates of unemployment, crime, and drug addiction and are poorly integrated into European Australia. A genetic basis of the low intelligence of the Australian Aborigines is suggested by studies showing that mixed-race Aborigines and Europeans have higher IQs than pure Aborigines, and by a small study of Aboriginal children adopted by Europeans that found that their IQs were lower than those of Europeans.

Race Differences in Personality and Behavior

Over the centuries a recurring theme in the European and Arabian descriptions of the personality and behavioral characteristics of black Africans has been that they are impulsive, intolerant of sustained work effort, live for the present, and have poor self-control. Lewis has summarized the views of a number of classical Arab writers such as the eleventh-century historians and geographers Said al-Andalusi of Toledo, who wrote that blacks lacked “self-control and steadiness of mind,” and Maqdisi, who described black Africans as having the nature of “wild animals.” Europeans who explored Africa in the nineteenth century reached similar conclusions. John Speke, who traveled extensively in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda between 1857 and 1862, wrote of Africans that “laziness is inherent in these men…they are a loose, roving, reckless set of beings…economy, care or foresight never enters his head…he is a creature of impulse—a grown child.” Francis Galton, who made an expedition to Angola in 1850, wrote of “the lazy Negro.” Similar observations were made about blacks in the Caribbean.

Anthony Trollope visited a number of islands in 1858 and subsequently wrote up his impressions in his book The West Indies and the Spanish Main. He described Jamaica in the most detail and wrote of the typical black that “he is idle, unambitious as to worldly position, sensual, and content with little.”

Psychopathic Personality

These characteristics of blacks as they have been perceived histori-cally can now be understood as arising from a high level of psychopathic personality. The concept of psychopathic personality was identified in the early nineteenth century by the British physician John Pritchard, who proposed the term “moral imbecility” for those deficient in moral sense but whose intellectual ability was unimpaired. The term psychopathic personality was proposed in 1915 by the German psychiatrist Emil Kraepelin. Harvey Cleckley described psychopathic personality in what has become a classic work, The Mask of Sanity (1941). He listed the principal expressions of the condition as being shallow emotions, defective insight, absence of nervousness, lack of remorse or shame, superficial charm, pathological lying, egocentricity and inability to love, failure to establish close or intimate relationships, irresponsibility, impulsive antisocial acts, failure to learn from experience, reckless behavior under the influence of alcohol, and a lack of long-term goals. In 1984 the American Psychiatric Association dropped the term psycho-pathic personality and replaced it with “antisocial personality disorder”; this is simply a synonym for psychopathic personality.

The features of antisocial personality disorder set out by the American Psychiatric Association are (1) inability to sustain consistent work behavior; (2) failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior (i.e. crime); (3) irritability and aggression, as indicated by frequent physical fights and assaults; (4) repeated failure to honor financial obligations; (5) failure to plan ahead or impulsivity; (6) no regard for truth, as indicated by repeated lying, use of aliases, or “conning” others; (7) recklessness regarding one’s own or others’ personal safety, as indicated by driving while intoxicated or recurrent speeding; (8) inability to function as a responsible parent; (9) failure to sustain a monogamous relationship for more than one year; (10) lack of remorse; and (11) the presence of conduct disorder in childhood.

Psychopathic personality is an extreme manifestation of a continuously distributed personality trait. There are race differences in the distribution of the trait such that psychopathic personality is high among blacks and American Indians, somewhat lower in Hispanics, lower still in Europeans and South Asians, and lowest in Orientals. Psychopathic personality appears to be high in Australian Aborigines, among whom it is expressed in high rates of unemployment, crime, truancy from school, and drug addiction. Little is known about the level of psychopathic personality in Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Inability to Sustain Consistent Work Behavior

Race differences in “inability to sustain consistent work behavior” are manifested in differences in rates of unemployment. In the United States, unemployment is highest among blacks and American Indians, lower among Hispanics, lower still among Europeans, and lowest among Orientals. These differences are often attributed to “white racism,” but several American sociologists have concluded that a major reason for the high rate of unemployment among blacks in inner cities is an unwillingness to work. Thus, E. Anderson has written that “there are many unemployed black youth who are unmotivated and uninterested in working for a living, particularly in the dead-end jobs they are likely to get.” Similarly, S.M. Petterson has written that “it is commonly contended that young black men experience more joblessness than their white counterparts because they are less willing to seek out low paying jobs.” These race differences are also present in Britain, Canada, and France. In Britain, 26 percent of black men were found to be unemployed in the 1991 census, compared with 11 percent of whites and Chinese. In Canada, 13 percent of black men were found to be unemployed in the 1991 census, compared with 7 percent of whites. In France in 1994, 11 percent of black men were found to be unemployed, compared with 8 percent of whites. Race differences in work motivation also appear in the amount of homework done by school students. Several studies in the United States have found that Orientals do the most homework, blacks and American Indians the least, with whites and Hispanics intermediate.


Rates for nonviolent crime such as burglary and car theft in the United States are about four times higher for blacks than whites. The rate for Hispanics and American Indians is about three times greater, while the rate for Orientals is lower, at about 80 percent of the white rate. In England the imprisonment rate for blacks is about six times greater than that for whites, while the rate for South Asians is about the same as that of whites. In Canada the imprisonment rate for blacks is about five times greater than that for whites, and, for American Indians, about two and a half times that of whites, while the rate for Orientals is about half that for whites, and for South Asians about two-thirds that of whites. In France the imprisonment rate for blacks is about eight times greater than that for whites, while in Sweden imprisonment for blacks is about two and a half times greater than that for whites and Orientals.

Irritability and Aggression

Race differences are present in a number of kinds of aggressive behavior. Homicide rates in the United States for black men are about six times greater than for whites, and for American Indian men about three times greater than for whites. Homicide rates for black and American Indian females are about four times greater than for whites. But the American ethnic Oriental homicide rate is only 60 percent the rate of whites. The same black-white differences are present in South Africa, but Indians in South Africa, originally from the Indian subcontinent, have approximately the same rate as whites.

Similar differences appear in convictions for assault and robbery, which in the United States are about twelve times greater for blacks, about three times greater for Hispanics, and twice as great for American Indians than for whites. The rates for Orientals are about 80 percent those of whites. Convictions for rape show the same differences. These are about five and a half times greater for blacks than for whites and about two to three times greater for Hispanics and American Indians, as compared with whites, while among Orientals rape is about half the rate for whites.

Domestic violence shows the same differences. The rate of severe violence by husbands toward their wives is about four times as frequent among blacks and American Indians as compared with whites, while assaults by wives on husbands are about twice as common for blacks and American Indians as for whites.

Honoring Financial Obligations

The APA lists “persistent failure to honor financial obligations” among the characteristics of psychopathic personality. An index of this characteristic is available in the default rates on student loans. About half of American students at colleges and universities take out loans that they are required to repay after graduation. Not all graduates repay these loans. Racial differences in loan default rates have been calculated from the data of the 1987 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study of 6,338 graduates. The percentages of loan defaulters for the four major American racial and ethnic groups were as follows: blacks: 55 percent; American Indians: 45 percent; Hispanics: 20 percent; and whites: 5 percent. The same differences are present for credit ratings made on the basis of records of the nonpayment of debts, unacceptably late payments, and bankruptcy. A report by the American agency, the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), on 12,000 households in 1999 found the highest percentage of poor credit ratings among blacks (48 percent) and the next highest among Hispanics (34 percent), while whites had the lowest percentage of poor credit ratings (27 percent).

Failure to Plan Ahead

The “failure to plan ahead” component of psychopathic personality includes an inability or unwillingness to delay immediate gratification for along-term advantage. The first study to demonstrate differences between blacks and whites in the delay of gratification was carried out in the late 1950s in Trinidad by the American psychologist Mischel. He offered black and white children the choice between being given a small candy bar now or a larger one in a week’s time. He found that black children were much more likely to ask for the small candy now. This difference has been confirmed in three subsequent studies. This race difference has been noted but given different descriptions by several writers. For instance, Banfi eld writes of the “extreme present-orientation” of blacks, and Levin of their “high time preference,” an economists’ term for preferring cash now to a greater sum, including accrued interest in the future.


Race differences in recklessness find expression in various forms of behavior. In automobiles, for instance, fewer blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians wear seat belts than whites, but more Orientals wear seat belts. Blacks and American Indians have about twice as many automobile accidents as whites. The main factors responsible for accidents are heavy drinking and speeding.

Recklessness is also expressed in the failure of those who do not wish to have children to use contraception. Studies in the United States have shown that blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians are less likely than whites to use contraception. In Britain blacks use contraception less than whites and South Asians. The result of a lower use of contraception is that blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians have greater rates of teenage and unplanned pregnancies than whites and (in Britain) South Asians.

Irresponsible Parenting

Race differences in irresponsible parenting are expressed in the prevalence of child abuse, maltreatment, and neglect. In the United States the rates of these forms of irresponsible parenting are about twice as high for blacks as among whites, while the rate for Hispanics is about 50 percent higher than for whites. The most extreme expression of the inability to function as a responsible parent consists of killing a child. Blacks and American Indians are convicted of homicide of their infants at about four times the rate of whites, Hispanics at about the same rate, while Orientals kill their infants at about two-thirds the rate of whites.


The psychopathic personality’s incapacity for long-term monogamous relationships is expressed in its marital infidelity and its low rates of marriage and cohabitation. Two sociologists, Staples and Johnson, write that “Blacks do not rank marriage as highly as whites” and that “Black Americans’ acceptance of this form of relationship is inconsistent with their African heritage.” In the United States in the early 1990s, 66 percent of adult Orientals were married, 61 percent of whites, 55 percent of Hispanics, 48 percent of American Indians, and 35 percent of blacks. In Britain and in France as well, Orientals are the most likely to be married, followed by South Asians and whites, while blacks have the lowest rate of marriage. The same differences have been found in the Caribbean, of which the sociologists Ram and Ebanks write, “In the Caribbean in general…there is a substantial amount of movement from one sex partner to another and also a very high percentage of reproduction outside marriage.” Rates of marriage in the Caribbean are much lower among blacks than among South Asians and Chinese. When they do marry, surveys in the United States and Britain have found that blacks are less faithful to their spouses and have more sexual partners both inside and outside marriage than whites.

Conduct Disorder

Conduct disorder in children and early adolescence is a frequent precursor of psychopathic behavior in adulthood. Conduct disorder consists of persistent disobedience, lying, stealing, burglary, truancy, vandalism, cruelty, and sexual precocity. In the United States, Britain, and the Netherlands, conduct disorder is about twice as frequent among black children as among whites, but is less common among Orientals than among whites. Among young adolescents, conduct disorder is expressed as delinquency. In the United States delinquency (serious juvenile crime) is about ten times greater among black boys and about fourteen times greater among black girls, as compared with whites. Conduct disorders and delinquency are also expressed in suspensions and exclusions from schools because of constant misbehavior. In Britain, blacks are excluded from schools at about four times the rate of whites. In the United States blacks and American Indians are excluded from schools at about three times the rate of whites, and Hispanics at about the same rate, while Orientals are excluded at about half the rate of whites. There are also race differences in sexual precocity in early adolescence. For instance, in the United States a survey carried out in 1992 found that 33 percent of black thirteen-year-olds had had sexual intercourse as compared with 15 percent of Hispanics, 14 percent of whites, and 4 percent of Orientals. Similar differences have been found in Britain, where more blacks but fewer South Asian teenagers had had sex, as compared with whites.


The pattern of the racial differences in the expressions of psychopathic personality shows a considerable degree of consistency. Blacks and American Indians invariably show higher levels of psychopathic personality than whites. Orientals invariably show lower levels of psychopathic personality than whites. South Asians in Britain and South Africa typically show about the same levels of psychopathic personality as whites. In the United States Hispanics are typically less psychopathic than blacks and American Indians but more psychopathic than whites.

Evolution of Race Differences

Race differences have evolved as adaptations to different environments. For instance, peoples in the tropics have dark skins because these give protection against ultraviolet radiation that causes skin cancer, but Europeans and Orientals evolved pale skins because temperate and cold environments allow the synthesis of vitamin D from sunlight. Similar adaptations have evolved for intelligence and personality. It was more difficult to survive intemperate and cold environments than in the tropics because food was harder to obtain, and clothing and shelters had to be made, so Europeans and Orientals evolved higher intelligence to deal with these problems. They also evolved lower psychopathic personality. The problems of surviving during cold winters would have required stronger bonding between males and females with greater and longer-term commitment by males to provision their female mates and children, more responsible and concerned parenting, a greater sense of the importance of maintaining harmonious and cooperative relations within the group, and the development of stronger control over aggression towards other group members and other forms of antisocial behavior. All of the components of psychopathic personality would have been disadvantageous for survival during the cold winters of Eurasia and would have selected for a reduction of psychopathic personality in Europeans and Orientals.


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