There is a long tradition of theoretical and empirical research linking intelligence to criminal activity. At the same time, the extant literature has been slow to examine this relationship in other settings. One such setting in which this relationship may also manifest is the prison environment, where knowledge on the determinants of prison misconduct has important implications for prison management and security. Drawing from a representative sample of inmates from a large Southern state in the US, the current study presents the first assessment of the relationship between intelligence and prison misconduct. The effect of intelligence, measured via the WAIS-R, on violent prison misconduct is analyzed controlling for inmate and prison-level factors. Results indicated that the individual's IQ, as well as the average IQ of the prison unit, was significantly and negatively related to violent prison misconduct. Implications and directions for future research are highlighted.Here's the main result:
A one standard deviation increase in IQ score (as compared to other inmates within the same prison unit) was associated with a ten percent reduction in the odds of committing violent misconduct.
...average IQ of the prisoners within each of the 30 different prison units was found to have a significant effect on the likelihood of an inmate committing violent misconduct. Simply stated, individuals housed in a unit with a higher average IQ score were significantly less likely to engage in violent misconduct.Another fun fact from the study: mean IQ in the inmate sample is 90 as compared to 100 in the national sample. People who try to estimate the social costs of alcohol-related crime by extrapolating from non-inmate average wage rates are massively overstating the potential earnings of the prison cohort.
This may also give us an alternative potential explanation for why some public schools fare badly on conduct measures.