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  •  Conservatives Obey their Authoritarian Masters (0+ / 0-)

    Much of wingnuttia can be understood through the theories of Right Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) and Social Dominance Orientation (SDO).

    Bob Altemeyer's highly recommended research into authoritarian submission and dominance has been published on the net and extensively discussed here at dKos.

    A diary by CatM introduces the subject this way:

    Last weekend, I was reading Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men, which seeks to explain how a group of seemingly ordinary middle-aged German family men could actively participate in the extermination of Jews in Poland during World War II, including acts of outright murder.

    At the end, the book discusses Theodor Adorno's theories of the authoritarian personality, which he formulated as his response to why ordinary men became Nazi killers, and I found the description eerily familiar:

    Rigid adherence to conventional values; submissiveness to authority figures; aggressiveness toward outgroups; opposition to introspection, reflection, and creativity; a tendency to superstition and stereotyping; preoccupation with power and "toughness"; destructiveness and cynicism; projectivity ("the disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world" and "the projection outward of unconscious emotional impulses"); and an exaggerated concern with sexuality.

    I had decided to post about it, and in preparation, began researching Adorno. I discovered my association between the authoritarian personality and the republican base was not original.

    John Dean applied Adorno's "authoritarian personality" to far-right conservatives in Conservatives without Conscience, and Canadian psychologist Bob Altemeyer (whose work is well respected) studied the relationship between this personality type and conservative movements worldwide. He called them right-wing authoritarians.

    Altemeyer developed a test to determine someone's "RWA" score (similar to Adorno's "F-scale"). He found that conservatives had higher RWA scores, on average, and were

    -more likely to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning, including making incorrect conclusions from factual evidence and holding contradictory beliefs.

    -more likely to uncritically accept insufficient evidence in support of their beliefs.

    -less likely to acknowledge their own limitations.

    -less open to experience.

    -more conscientious.

    -more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity.

    -more willing to suspend Constitutional rights on personal liberty.

    -more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals and more likely to say that they obtain personal satisfaction from punishing people.

    -more likely to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities and homosexuals.

    High scores on the RWA scale did not correlate to intelligence.

    Another good summary is given in an academic paper posted on dKos:

    Authoritarianism as a trait has been studied from the perspective of personality theory since the 1950’s. In recent years, this perspective has been refined by the introduction of social psychological theories of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) by Altemeyer in 1998, and of social-dominance orientation (SDO) by Sidanius & Pratto in 1999. These two theories and their attendant instruments of measure now guide much, perhaps most, of the research found in the literature.

    Altemeyer’s 30-point RWA scale has been widely found to have high reliability and validity. Those with high RWA scores are marked by propensity to submit to authority, strong observance of social values and norms, and low tolerance for others who show disrespect for those norms. Aggressiveness toward norm-breakers is acceptable to the high-RWA if it is perceived as being approved of by authority figures. In addition, high-RWAs see themselves as morally superior and exhibit high levels of out-group prejudice (Altemeyer, 2004).

    SDO, on the other hand, is a measure of individual preferences towards hierarchies of superiority and inferiority in intergroup relationships, as opposed to equality. Those with high SDO scores share or exceed the high levels of prejudice found in high RWAs, but usually hold less idealistic views of morality and see the world as a competitive environment (Akrami & Ekkehammar, 2006).

    In summary, high RWA can be considered a disposition toward authoritarian submission, and high SDO a disposition toward authoritarian dominance.

    And, see this diary by CreditBubble.

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