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Filipino Anti-Intellectualism Scale

School of Arts and Sciences

University of San Carlos

Cebu City, Philippines




Jones, Luzenne S.

Bajalla, Kjella Angelie A.

Villariza, Mirzi Philline A.

Theoretical Framework


One might believe in the popular phrase that states “knowledge is power”. Needless to

say, power refers to the will and ability for one to act on and apply this knowledge for the benefit

to society. One who possesses valuable knowledge, that can contribute to society, may possibly

gain authority as an influential public figure through the use of social and political power. These

people are known as the intellectuals of society. Due to the ignorance of some towards these

particular intellectuals, the phenomenon of anti-intellectualism has sparked in different countries

throughout the globe. Anti-intellectualism is the belief that intellectual pursuits should be

ridiculed. A country’s culture of intelligence can vary according to its cultural values placed on

education, intellectual awareness, and whether the pursuit of knowledge is promoted to its

citizens. Madrazo (2015) acknowledged a country that, despite promotes educational values to its

citizens, still struggles with the pervasive thread of ignorance is the Philippines. Most Filipinos

can agree that one of the reasons why the Philippines has not advanced as much as one would

expect it to may be due to the belief that anti-intellectualism is holding back the country’s

growth. Anti-intellectualism plays a part in what is referred to as “toxic Filipino culture”. Instead

of celebrating persons with high level intelligence, these intellectuals are unfortunately being put

under a negative light. Akizuki (2015) implies that the majority of intellectual Filipinos only

become successful when they go abroad but not in their own home country. Antonio (2017)

stresses that Filipinos are inclined to place fault onto people who establish credibility and

legitimacy through their academic credentials which is a form of misplaced anti-intellectualism.

The calling of attention to academic credentials is a necessary practice to establish legitimacy

because it is the basis where one is speaking from. This can only be regarded as wrong when the

purpose is to flaunt or be boastful as a way of taking away the right of others, without the

necessary academic credentials, to speak which can feed envy and hatred resulting in an even

stronger rejection of intellectuals. Sison (2015) states that Filipinos will ostracize or smart shame

those intellectuals who say what’s on their mind and think outside the box. Instead of engaging

intellectuals to bring out the best of their ideas, they silence them through a figurative hand that

signals them to stop thinking and generating new ideas. Interesting ideas will be perceived as a

threat and thrown down the drain if the other person does not want to feel intellectually inferior

in the conversation. Fairuza (2017) states that when Filipinos are confronted on an error by an

intellectual, they can also react negatively by sarcastically downgrading or insulting their own

selves that they were not bright enough instead of accepting the correction of the error as

constructive criticism. These sarcastic remarks act as a defense mechanism for them to cope with

embarrassment. People do not want to be thrown off guard with topics they are unfamiliar with

because it makes them lose their self-esteem. It is not right to mock or intentionally avoid critical

thoughts or ideas being shared because it prohibits learning to occur. When the topic requires one

to conduct their own further research or questions the belief one has held all their life, it should

not be shot down immediately. Anti-intellectualism will rise in these situations. The immediate

invalidation of ideas that are not well known or foreign concepts are shot down instead of

intriguing further research and discussion that could be of value. Responses to this situation may

vary. Some Filipinos are known to be offended, or without realizing it, offend the intellectual

even if they have good intention in which they do not want the intellectual to feel as if he was a

misfit who is not in the right mind to speak.

Philippine History Anti-Intellectualism

The prevalence of anti-intellectualism started with Philippine history, itself, through the

colonization of the Spaniards about 300 years ago. The Spaniards were responsible for

converting the Filipinos to the Catholic Christian Religion. Nation Master (2015) revealed in a

survey that the Philippines is a catholic country in where 80% of Filipinos are Christian

Catholics. Filipinos tend to rely on what is ethical because of their strong religious orientation

instead of using the critical and logical thinking approach. The Spaniards have purposely limited

the education of the common Filipino. Any of the Filipinos who opposed the views of the

Spaniards were scorned and beaten. Jose Rizal, the Philippine’s national hero was even shunned

as a traitor because of his westernized intellectualism. The mentality kept on and even to this day

intellectual Filipinos are still being shunned by their own countrymen hence, intellectual

Filipinos choose to leave the country because of the lack of support.

Philippine Political Anti-Intellectualism

Evidence of anti-intellectualism can be shown through Philippine politics during the late

20th century elections. The word “intellectual” was used as an insult directed toward the political

candidates running for public servant positions. Intellectualism was not seen as a positive

advantage for being a public servant and was instead criticized and sneered at by voters. On top

of that, there were even some who implied in their criticisms that politicians with high

intelligence directly correlate with corrupt and unstable behavior. In order to increase public

appeal, these political candidates would downplay their academic and career achievements as a

way of being more relatable to the masses. These former elected politicians would regularly
boast about building a career around ignorance and even celebrate being expelled out of school.

Da Pinoy Chronicle (2013) considers the rejection of rationality and logical reasoning and

heightened emotional sensitivity contributing factors to Filipino anti-intellectualism. The

Philippine society is said to be mostly governed by passion rather than reason. They tend to

make actions that do not reflect intellectual reasoning. Philippine politics seem to disregard

having substance or competence in governing their subjects which can unfortunately lead to

corruption. Corruption arises from incompetence. Fairuza (2017) states that Filipinos rely of their

debt of gratitude or “utang na loob” when they repay a certain favor to someone who did a favor

for them first. This can become negative whenever paying back debt becomes more important

than what is right. Some Filipino politicians may use money to bribe voters. The voters might

choose the political candidate who is most popular just because they are already a celebrity

instead of checking on the candidate’s political background and credibility first.

Philippine Media Anti-Intellectualism

Another evidence of Filipino anti-intellectualism is its exploitation and celebration of

ignorance in the Filipino entertainment industry through TV shows and movies. The characters

of these films or soap operas that act with high level intelligence are usually either smart shamed

as being an outcast termed as “nerd” or portrayed as villains termed as “evil genius.” The

Filipino media is also fond of sensationalism and fabrication that gets mingled with important

information when broadcasting news stories to the public.

Philippine Education Anti-Intellectualism

It is noted by the Philippine Statistics Authority (2010) that 25% of the population is

below poverty line, and that 54% of the population have never finished high school. Da Pinoy

Chronicle (2013) suggests that the Filipino attitude towards education is outdated and that the

society that Filipinos live in is in contradiction with itself by being socially conservative but

culturally liberal at the same time. The Philippine’s current education system is flawed because

of its ideological biases incorporated onto history books being taught to the students even if they

were proven to be hoaxes. Due to the falsified facts in the history book, Filipino students have

come to possess anti foreign views. In addition to that, money ensures graduation regardless of

competence. For the great majority of Filipinos, it is either that they’ve received no education at

all or learned only the mechanical processes of reading and writing without much contribution to

one’s ability for independent thought as it is observed that students where tended to speak only

what they have heard or memorized.

Filipino Psychology of Anti-Intellectualism

Enriquez (2002) revealed Filipino Psychology or “Sikolohiyang Filipino” can help gain

insight through the Filipino psychological perspective as to why anti-intellectualism is present. It

is confirmed that the core construct of Filipino Psychology is togetherness or “kapwa”. The

Filipino culture is collectivistic in nature as it is family oriented, demonstrates conformity, and

values social relationships like most Asian countries as opposed the individualistic Western

culture. Despite many heroes of Philippine history being intellectuals, the zeitgeist or cultural

spirit of the Philippine pre-modern era only permitted a few Filipinos with social status access to

education. Because of this, a gap was formed between Filipino communities which goes against

the “Kapwa” or togetherness construct which eventually led to the negative view of intellectuals
as being elitists. Elitist are persons who believe that society should be led by an elite. On top of

that, Filipinos are said to be highly sensitive to constructive criticisms by intellectuals regarding

the contradictions and ironies of the Philippines. Conformity is believed to be the supreme law of

the land which means that intellectuals who have “Western” views are automatically ridiculed,

outcasted, and sneered at.

Existing Scales of Anti-Intellectualism

In an effort to produce a measure of anti-intellectual dispositions, Eigenberger and

Sealander (2001) developed scale items directed toward capturing the attitudes, beliefs and

sentiments of university students toward education, professors, and academe itself. The resultant

measure was called the Student Anti-Intellectualism Scale (SAIS), and while subsequent studies

have indicated the scale is capable of reliable and valid measurement of students' anti-intellectual

dispositions (Elias, 2008, 2009; Hook, 2004; Triki, Nicholls, Wegener, Bay, & Cook, 2012), the

same conclusion cannot be made for a non-student population as they have never received the

SAIS due to the education context specific nature of the items. The SAIS had been designed

principally as a measure of anti-intellectualism within the context of academia. As a result, this

current study aims to develop a measuring scale of anti-intellectualism in the Philippines that

assesses intellectualistic dispositions within the specific and general Filipino population.

Akizuki, S. (2015, February 23). The Philippines' Problem of Anti-Intellectualism Prevailing in

Society. Retrieved from http://makingitfuninthephilippines.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-


Antonio, C. (2017, November 2). Misplaced anti-intellectualism. Retrieved From


Da Pinoy Chronicle: Anti-Intellectualism is More Fun in The Philippines. (2013, February 19).

Retrieved from https://dapinoychronicle.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/da-pinoy-chronicle-anti-


Eigenberger, M. E., & Sealander, K. A. (2001). A scale for measuring students anti-

intellectualism. Psychological Reports, 89, 387–402. http://dx.doi.org/10.2466/PR0.89.6.387-


Elias, R. Z. (2008). Anti-intellectual attitudes and academic self-efficacy among business

students. Journal of Education for Business, 84, 110–117.

Elias, R. Z. (2009). The impact of anti-intellectualism attitudes and academic self-efficacy on

business students' perceptions of cheating. Journal of Business Ethics, 86, 199


Fairuza S. (2017). Fairuza Blog - Anti-Intellectualism; A social stigma in the Philippines.

Retrieved from https://fairuzapetitsanctuiare.wordpress.com/2017/03/06/anti-intellectualism-in-


Hook, R. (2004). Students' anti-intellectual attitudes and adjustment to college. Psychological

Reports, 94, 909–914. http://dx.doi.org/10.2466/pr0.94.3.909-914/

Madrazo, R. J. (2015, July 6). Smart-shaming and our Pinoy culture of anti-intellectualism.

Retrieved from Http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/517026/scitech/science/smart-


Philippine Statistics Authority. (2013, January 10). Retrieved from



Sison, S. (2015, October 15). What's up with the smart-shaming? Retrieved from


Triki, A., Nicholls, S., Wegener, M., Bay, D., & Cook, G. L. (2012). Anti-intellectualism,

tolerance for ambiguity and locus of control: Impact on performance in accounting education.

Advances in Accounting Education, 13, 87–107. http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/S1085-