Perceptions of ethnic group modal intelligence: Reflections of Cultural Stereotypes or Intelligence Test Scores?

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This study examined Israeli college students' perceptions of the modal intelligence of five major Israeli ethnic groups, i.e., European Jews, Eastern Jews, Christian Arabs, Moslem Arabs, and Druze, and explored students' attributions with respect to the determinants of ethnic group differences in ability. In addition, this study explored their perceptions of the social distance of each of these five target groups and the relationship between a group's modal intelligence and perceived social distance. The quota sample consisted of 120 undergraduate students enrolled in a major northern Israeli campus and included representatives of each of the five target groups assessed. The perceived modal intelligence profiles for the five Israeli ethnic groups varied as a function of the student's ethnic group membership. Whereas, there was considerable disagreement with respect to the least intelligent and intermediate subgroups, there appears to be general consensus among Israeli students that Jews of Western extraction are the most intelligent of the major Israeli ethnic subgroups. Furthermore, Arab students, relative to their Jewish counterparts, were more prone to espouse an environmental stance in the explanation of group differences in ability. The relationship between a group's perceived modal intelligence and perceived social distance was tenuous. The data suggest that perceptions of intelligence are moulded by the role which each group plays in relation to the other and that students' perceptions of group modal intelligence function much like cultural group stereotypes. The data were discussed and explicated in terms of ethnic stereotypes and intergroup relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-231
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Cross-Cultural Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology


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