A psychologist looks at right wing authoritarianism


by David Safier
Todd offered this comment to the post, Is it a proto-fascist movement?

A Canadian Psychologist, Bob Altemeyer, has been looking for years at what makes people more or less likely to adhere to a right-wing authoritarianism. His research has been going on for 40 years and has a wealth of data and has largely withstood any serious criticism. Essentially people such as this have 3 traits – 1) high degree of submissiveness to those who they believe are authorities with a great credulousness to anything that support their beliefs no matter how irrational, 2) Highly aggressive to outgroups and 3) a high degree of Conventionalism in regards to adhering to social norms and traditions.

A kind of popular and free summary of his research can be found here :
I think it sheds a great deal of light on what is happening.


  1. On the other hand, there are some of us for whom conformity is an anathema which in a society where conformity is the norm quickly places and labels us as defiant, troublemakers or whatever euphemism others feel in the moment suits their purpose.

    I find that conformity is NOT necessarily wrong or bad, but rather that in today’s American society, most do not have a clue why they conform. I can find value and credence in the positions offered in this posting, though I find myself asking if the rationale provided is the total answer.

    It strikes me, especially in the last 40 years, technology has given to us the means, methods as well as increasing venues with which to stealthy “tap” into both our conscious and subconscious, with messages 24/7 carrying only a perspective they want perpetuated.

    Until very recently “we” – that’s you and me – acted like sheep giddy over those “things” which they were providing to us. There is a new “awareness” penetrating mankind causing us to being to look into the mirror and honestly study and ask question of that that reflection.


Comments are closed.