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By Their Flags Ye Shall Know Them: National Flag Symbolism and Colors Predict Average Country IQ and HDI

Slobodan Koljevic

Published: 2020/03/01


That human ancestry predicts average IQ and socioeconomic outcomes is amongst the most thoroughly replicated findings of the social sciences. Since human ethnic and cultural descent is usually represented on national flags, it was hypothesized herein that national flag symbolism and colors would be predictive of a nation’s average IQ and socioeconomic development. In order to test this hypothesis, national flag symbols and colors were coded, quantified, and correlated with country IQ and Human Development Index (HDI). Both country-level IQ and HDI are positively associated with Christian symbolism, and negatively associated with symbols representing celestial bodies. The color green predicts lower IQ and HDI, while the color white predicts higher IQ and HDI. The color red predicts higher IQ, but not higher HDI, and the color yellow predicts lower HDI, but not lower IQ. The correlations are generally higher for HDI than IQ. With the exception of the color yellow, the correlations with HDI are significant even when controlling for the correlation between HDI and IQ. The present study suggests national flag symbolism and colors as yet another correlate of average group intelligence.

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