Blonde people – and especially blonde women – are often stereotyped as being ‘ditzy’ or ‘dumb’.
Popular culture is full of some very cruel depictions of blondes as being ‘airheads’ or ‘bimbos’, whereas it isn’t uncommon to hear an acquaintance describes themselves as ‘having a blonde moment’ when they do something particularly dim.
Having known plenty of intelligent blonde people myself, I was happy to hear how a study has found blondes actually tend to have a slightly higher IQ than their brunette counterparts (who are in turn often typecast as studious and introverted).
The Ohio State University study of 10,878 white, female American baby boomers found blondes had, on average, an IQ of 103.2.
For brunettes this was 102.7, for red heads 101.2 and for those with black hair the average IQ was 100.5.This research also found how blondes are more likely to be classified as being geniuses and are less likely to fit within the lowest IQ category.
Similar results were found among blonde men, who had roughly the same IQ as men with brown, red or black tresses.
However, it was noted how more women (20.7%) than expected said they were naturally blonde, compared to just 17.1% of men. It is therefore estimated around 3.5% women falsely reported being a natural blonde.
Although these differences are slight, this helps to demonstrate there is no real basis for the ‘dumb blonde’ myth, and this is important.
According to study author Jay Zagorsky, who works at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research (CHRR):
I don’t think you can say with certainty that blondes are smarter than others, but you can definitely say they are not any dumber.
It may seem amusing to crack a joke when your fair haired friend forgets where she put her phone, such stereotypes have proven to be harmful for blondes in various social and workplace situations.
Hair bias shouldn’t matter, but all too often it does. After all, employers are looking to hire bright and competent workers and first impressions can be skewed by appearance prejudice.
Zagorsky has explained:
Research shows that stereotypes often have an impact on hiring, promotions and other social experiences,
This study provides compelling evidence that there shouldn’t be any discrimination against blondes based on their intelligence.
This research does not go into whether or not there is any genetic connection between hair colour and level of intelligence.
However, Zagorsky noted one factor which could have contributed towards the slightly raised IQ level among blondes. More so than any other hair colour group, they tended to grow up within homes where there were more things to read.
An excellent advertisement for getting kids into books early if ever there was one, whatever their hair colour.
According to Zagorsky:
If blondes have any slight advantage, it may simply be that they were more likely to grow up in homes with more intellectual stimulation.
Much like Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, there is much more to blondes than just flowing golden locks.
Blondes of the world: go forth and show your true bookish colours!
Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.