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Defitinition & Summary of Scientific Research Re Right-Wing Authoritarians

by Robert Altemeyer (Assembled by IMC-LA) Sunday, Oct. 28, 2001 at 3:08 PM

From "The Authoritarian Specter." The definition explains what right-wing authoritarianism is. "Exhibit 12.1 Summary of Scientific Research Findings Regarding HIGH RWAs," provides a list of empirical findings about the tendencies of authoritarians.

Right-wing authoritarianism is composed of three co-factors:

1. Authoritarian submission-a high degree of submission to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.

2. Authoritarian aggression-a general aggressiveness, directed against various persons, that is perceived to be sanctioned by established authorities.

3. Conventionalism-a high degree of adherence to the social conventions that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities.

Exhibit 12.1 Summary of Scientific Research Findings Regarding HIGH RWAs.

Compared to others, right-wing authoritarians are significantly more likely to:

Score on the "Hitler" end of the RWA Scale.

Accept unfair and illegal abuses of power by government authorities.

Trust leaders (such as Richard Nixon) who are untrustworthy.

Weaken constitutional guarantees of liberty, such as the bill of Rights.

Punish severely "common" criminals in a role-playing situation.

Admit they get personal pleasure from punishing such people.

But go easy on authorities who commit crimes and people who attack minorities.

Not hold responsible the authority who caused the attacks in the "Milgram experiment."

Attack "learners" in an "electrical shock" experiment.

Be prejudiced against many racial, ethnic, nationalistic, and linguistic minorities.

Be hostile toward homosexuals.

Support "gay-bashing."

Volunteer to help the government persecute almost anyone.

Be mean-spirited toward those who have made mistakes and suffered.

Insist on traditional sex roles.

Be hostile toward feminists.

Conform to opinions of others, and be more likely to 'yea-say.'

Be fearful of a dangerous world.

Be highly self-righteous.

Strongly believe in group cohesiveness and "loyalty."

Make many incorrect inferences from evidence.

Hold contradictory ideas leading them to "speak out of both sides of their mouths."

Uncritically accept that many problems are "our most serious problem."

Uncritically accpet insufficient evidence that supports their beliefs.

Uncritically trust people who tell them what they want to hear.

Use many double standards in their thinking and judgements.

Be hypocrites.

Help cause and inlame intergroup conflict.

Be bullies when they have power over others.

Seek dominace over others by being competititve and destructive in situations requiring cooperation.

Believe they have no personal failings.

Avoid learning about their personal failings.

Use religion to eerase guild over their acts and to maintain their self-righteousness.

Be "fundamentalists" and the most prejudiced members of whatever religion they belong to.

Be dogmatic.

Be zealots.

Be less educated.

Sometimes join left-wing movements, where their hostility distinguishes them.

But much more typically endorse right-wing political parties.

Be conservative/Reform party (Canaada) or republican Party (United States) lawmakers who (1) have a conservative economic philsophy; (2) believe in social dominance; (3) are ethnocentric; (4) are highly nationalistic; (5) oppose abortion; (6) aupport capital punishment; (7) oppose gun-control legislation; (8) say they value freedom but actually want to undermine the Bill of Rights; (9) do not value equality very highly and oppose measures to increase it; (10) are not likely to rise in the Democratic party, but do so among Republicans.


For an article discussing some specifics of Altemeyer's findings about right-wing authoritarians, click on the link below.

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