Temperamental differences by race
By J. Philippe Rushton
August 12, 2004
Over a century ago, Sir Francis Galton initiated research into individual and race differences in intelligence and temperament. He was the first to propose the study of human twins and of selective breeding in animals to disentangle the effects of heredity and environment. And it was Galton—who spent several years exploring in what is now Namibia as a young man—who first contrasted the talkative impulsivity of Africans with the taciturn reserve of American Indians, and the placidity of the Chinese.
Galton further noted that these temperament differences persisted irrespective of climate (from the frozen north through the torrid equator), and religion, language, or political system (whether self-ruled or governed by the Spanish, Portuguese, English or French).
Anticipating later studies of transracial adoptions, Galton observed that the majority of individuals adhered to racial type even after being raised by White settlers.
In my book Race, Evolution, and Behavior, I review the evidence accumulated since Galton’s pioneering studies. This shows that his views were largely correct. Twin and adoption studies (such as those of identical twins raised apart by Professor Thomas J. Bouchard Jr. at the University of Minnesota) show that traits like Extraversion and Neuroticism are substantially heritable.
Temperamental differences, measured objectively by activity recorders attached to arms and legs, show up in babies. African babies are more active sooner and develop earlier than White babies who, in turn, are more active than East Asian babies. Motor behavior is a highly stable individual difference variable. Even among Whites, activity level measured during free play shows highly significant negative correlations with IQ: more restrained children average higher intellects.
Parallel results are found in four- to six-year-olds using teacher ratings. One study carried out in Quebec, Canada, had teachers rate immigrant children in French language preschools. The teachers reported more outgoing temperament among children of African descent than among those of European descent, and especially than in those of East Asian descent.
The racial differences in temperament are also found on standardized personality tests. Blacks consistently score more outgoing, active, socially dominant, and impulsive than do Whites, while Whites consistently score more active and socially dominant than do East Asians.
It may be surprising to learn that Blacks also have higher self-esteem than Whites and East Asians. This is true even when Blacks are poorer and less educated. In one large study of 11- to 16-year-olds, Blacks rated themselves as more attractive than did Whites. Blacks also rated themselves higher in reading, science and social studies (but not in mathematics).
The Blacks said this even though they knew they had lower actual academic achievement scores than White children.
In contrast, East Asian students, even though they score higher in academic achievement than Whites, often score lower in self-esteem.
What I am suggesting then, is that Blacks have a self-assured "bright" talkative, personality, which leads many people to over-estimate their abstract reasoning ability. East Asians provide a "compare and contrast" case study with people under-estimating their IQ because of their quietness and otherwise "subdued" personality profile. East Asians who average higher than Whites on IQ tests (107 versus 100) have often been described to me as seeming "dull and uncreative" compared to Whites, achieving what they do only through unimaginative rote learning, imitation, and memorization.
The relative restraint of East Asians contrasted with the noisiness of Africans is apparent to anyone visiting their home continents. When the New York Yankees played the first game of the 2004 baseball season before a packed stadium in Tokyo, Japan, the announcers noted how very much quieter the crowd was than those at games in the U.S. But it was a more tranquil disposition, not a lack of interest in the game, which hushed the stands.
Because of the time difference, people all over Japan regularly get up at two in the morning to view games broadcast from the U.S. featuring American teams which include Japanese-born stars.
Like any other group, Whites look upon themselves as the norm. Whites tend not to speak up if they don’t know the answer to a question. Nor do they like to intrude on the privacy of others. They erroneously assume that, because Africans are talkative, they must know what they are talking about.
The flipside is the reticence and reserve of East Asians. In the realm of behavior, English traditionally uses the same term, "dumb," both for being unable to speak and for being stupid or silly (though both usages are quite Politically Incorrect these days). In the case of the average mental ability of East Asians, dumb is hardly dumber!
The converse is that the greater talkativeness of Blacks does not indicate brightness—it often masks a low ability to reason abstractly.