⚁ A.11 Authoritarianism:

A selected review of the literature.

William Tillier

04 2023


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⚂ A.11.1 Overview.

⚂ A.11.2 References.

⚂ A.11.1 Overview.

⚃ Also see: https://www.positivedisintegration.com/milgram.htm

⚃ During World War II, Nevitt Sanford (1986) was studying anti-Semitism and concluded that prejudice arose from deep emotional, personality-based needs.

⚃ Sanford joined a group investigating “authoritarian potential.” They were concerned American popular culture was fertile ground to create political totalitarianism (Jay, 1973). They felt Americans could be vulnerable to sympathizing with antidemocratic propaganda and they developed the F (fascist) scale to research the “potentially fascistic individual.”

⚃ Hypothesis: “that the political, economic, and social convictions of an individual often form a broad and coherent pattern, as if bound together by a ‘mentality’ or ‘spirit,’ and that this pattern is an expression of deep-lying trends in his personality” (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, & Sanford, 1950, p. 1).

⚃ Their studies were published in 1950 (Adorno et al., 1950).

⚃ Nine qualities were presented describing the authoritarian personality, aka ‘authoritarianism’ (Adorno et al., 1950, p. 228):

⚄ 1. Conventionalism. Rigid adherence to conventional, middle-class values. 2. Authoritarian submission. Submissive, uncritical attitude toward idealized moral authorities of the ingroup. 3. Authoritarian aggression. Tendency to be on the lookout for and to condemn, reject, and punish people who violate conventional values. 4. Anti-intraception. Opposition to the subjective, the imaginative, the tender-minded. 5. Superstition and stereotypy. The belief in mystical determinants of the individual’s fate; the disposition to think in rigid categories. 6. Power and ‘toughness.’ Preoccupation with the dominance-submission, strong-weak, leader-follower dimension, identification with power figures; overemphasis on the conventionalized attributes of the ego; exaggerated assertion of strength and toughness. 7. Destructiveness and cynicism. Generalized hostility, vilification of the human. 8. Projectivity. The disposition to believe that wild and dangerous things go on in the world; the projection outwards of unconscious emotional impulses. 9. Sex. Exaggerated concern with sexual ‘goings-on.’

⚃ “These variables were thought of as going together to form a single syndrome, a more or less enduring structure in the person that renders him receptive to antidemocratic propaganda” (Adorno et al., 1950, p. 228).

⚃ Later, Adorno rejected the psychological/Freudian basis of the published study: “the ultimate source of prejudice has to be sought in social factors which are incomparably stronger than the ‘psyche’ of any one individual involved” … “anti-Semitism, fascism, and authoritarianism were due to ‘the total structure of our society’” (Gordon, 2017, p. 43).

⚃ Adorno explained, “men tend to become transformed into ‘social agencies’ and to lose the qualities of independence and resistance which used to define the old concept of the individual” (Gordon, 2017, p. 45).

⚃ Adorno: “People are inevitably as irrational as the world in which they live” (Gordon, 2017, p. 46).

⚄ “Initially, their theory of the authoritarian personality and the F scale attracted enormous interest, however, by the early 1960s, interest in this perspective had largely collapsed because of its numerous weaknesses” (Duckitt, 2001, p. 42).

⚄ Recent research: Grzyb et al., 2017; Harms et al., 2017; Hodson, MacInnis, & Busseri, 2017; Hotchin & West, 2018; Richey, 2017

⚃ Authoritarian personality: “socially conservative, nationalistic, intolerant of deviance and outgroups, and politically right-wing, preferring strict laws and rules, and supporting tough, punitive social control and authority” (Duckitt, 2013, p. 1).

⚃ Later theorists discarded psychodynamic views, but saw stable individual differences in these ideological attitudes as a personality dimension. Altemeyer, developed the construct of Right Wing Authoritarianism (Duckitt, 2013).

⚃ “Contemporary theories have [therefore] tended to see Right Wing Authoritarianism (or social conservatism) as influenced by both personality and situational factors” (Duckitt, 2013, p. 1).

⚃ Vials (2017, p. 7): “Applying this conception to our time, movements of the right—from the Goldwater campaign to the Tea Party—are ‘rebellions’ ultimately submissive to authority because their members know that private-sector employers, not the government, are the real forces in control of daily life.”

⚃ Dr. Piechowski: “The characteristics of authoritarian personality (Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswik, Levinson, and Sanford, 1950) seem to correspond closely to primary integration as well as to the lower stages in Kohlberg’s and Loevinger’s approach (Schmidt, 1977)” (Piechowski, 1977, p. 23).

⚃ “Is primary integration a personality structure? To my mind, one of the five levels is highly problematic. It is Level I or primary integration. Dr. Dąbrowski viewed primary integration as a rigid personality structure. The closest to this idea is the concept of authoritarian personality (Adorno et al., 1950). It began as a study of personality traits found in prejudiced, or ethnocentric individuals. They are non-reflective, egocentric and they identify only with their own group, they lack empathy, insight and self-criticism. Their thinking is stereotyped, they hold black and white conceptions of good and bad, and have a tendency toward physical aggression. They view others as objects and are manipulative and exploitative. They value status, power, and wealth (Schmidt, 1977). But the study found that prejudice and ethnocentrism are not built into people but are the result of child rearing that emphasizes obedience to authority, respect for power, and which sanctions aggression against all those who are perceived as a threat. This means that such individuals are made, not born. They are the outcome of particular socialization which fosters antagonism toward anything that is different, unfamiliar and contrary to one’s tradition” (Piechowski, 2002, p. 178).

⚃ Additional research: Allport, 1954; Altemeyer, 2006; Ashton & Lee, 2018; Ashton, Lee, & de Vries, 2014; Blass, 2009; Cohen, 2017; Ekehammar, Akrami, & Gylje, 2004; Grzyb et al., 2017; Haidt, 2013; Harms et al., 2017; Hodson, MacInnis, & Busseri, 2017; Hotchin & West, 2018; Hollander, M. & Turowetz, 2023; Lee & Ashton, 2012; McFarland, 2010; Prescott & Logan, 2018; Richey, 2017; Sibley & Duckitt, 2008

⚃ “The concept of primary integration –originally called primitive integration by Dr. Dąbrowski – was not examined until Margaret Schmidt showed in her thesis that it largely corresponds to the concept of authoritarian personality (Schmidt, 1977). Authoritarian personality results from strict parenting and social pressures that enforce conformity and respect for authority; that is, those who hold power. Therefore, it is not an integration either inherited genetically or arrived at by the individual himself” (Piechowski, 2014, p. 13).

⚃ “In regard to ‘authoritarian personality’ and ‘moral disengagement’ it needs to be clarified that we are not talking about authoritarian personality but authoritarian behavior. We live in a world in which authoritarian behavior is rampant. Moral disengagement is an expression of the authoritarian world we live in” (Piechowski, 2018, March 27, e-mail).

⚃ Dr. Piechowski has ignored Schmidt’s (1977) inclusion of psychopaths at level I.

⚄ Primary integration corresponds to the authoritarian personality.

⚄ Authoritarian personality is the best description of behavior characterizing Level I.

⚄ Such individuals are made, not born; i.e., they are the outcome of a particular type of socialization.

⚄ Now, not authoritarian personality, rather authoritarian behavior expressed via moral disengagement, caused by the authoritarian world we live in (social causes).

⚃ Research for a genetic basis for authoritarian personality:

⚄ “The results do not suggest that, as Adorno et al. (1950) hypothesized, authoritarian parental behavior or familial structure induces rigid cognitive functioning as a component of the authoritarian personality. RWAand intelligence are heritable and family environment does not predict authoritarianism scores for individuals who are not genetically related to their rearing parents” (McCourt, Bouchard, Lykken, Tellegen, & Keyes, 1999, p. 1008).

⚄ “Authoritarianism, as measured by the RWA, is not simply a manifestation of one’s level of intelligence. Instead it appears to exist as a trait influenced by genetic factors largely independent of those that contribute to intelligence” (McCourt, et al., 1999, p. 1008).

⚃ “Facets of RWA’s nomological network have been revamped. In contrast with the conclusion of Altemeyer (1981, 1988) that the rearing environment is the primary determinant of attitudes, the results here support the hypotheses that human beings are active in creating and choosing their environments and that these transactions with the environment are influenced in part by the genotype. As Scarr (1997) has long contended, family environment appears to be an important influence mainly because it is confounded with genetic relationship” (McCourt, et al., 1999, p. 1009).

⚃ “individual differences in tendencies to submit to conventional authorities thus represents driving force behind their social, political, and religious attitudes (Bouchard, 2009), though the particular ideas espoused by those high or low in this orientation will vary among cultures and time periods” (Ludeke, Johnson, & Bouchard, 2013, p. 376).

⚃ “Our analyses supported the hypothesis that Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Religiousness, and Conservatism are different measures of a single underlying trait. These are not merely highly related constructs, then, but instead are each a manifestation of the same underlying tendency across the social, political, and religious domains. With genetic influences contributing 44% of the variance in this latent trait, the heritability of the TMVT trait was comparable to that found in studies focusing on single-trait measures in this domain” (Ludeke, Johnson, & Bouchard, 2013, p. 378).

⚃ “Altemeyer in 1981. His research suggested that only three of the original nine facets of authoritarianism described by Adorno et al. (1950) – conventionalism, authoritarian aggression, and authoritarian submission—covaried strongly to form a unitary social attitude dimension, and he developed his Right-wing Authoritarianism (RWA) Scale to measure this dimension” (Duckitt, 2001, p. 42).

⚃ “The core model predictions are that the two socialization practice dimensions, [1] punitive and [2] unaffectionate socialization, impact on the two personality dimensions, [1] social conformity and [2] tough-mindedness respectively, which impact on the two social worldviews, [1] belief in a dangerous and [2] competitive-jungle world respectively. Both personality and worldview then impact on RWA and SDO. This core model thus comprises a theory of the dual psychological bases of the two ideological attitude dimensions of authoritarianism and social dominance” (Duckitt, 2001, pp. 58-59).

⚃ “RWA is now also considered an ideological belief (Duckitt, 2001) that people should obey and respect authorities deemed as legitimate, abide by social conventions, and endorse harsh punishment of norm violators” (Choma & Hanoch, 2017, p. 287).

⚂ A.11.2 References.

⚃ Adorno, T. W., Frenkel-Brunswik, E., Levinson, D. J., & Sanford, N. (1950). The authoritarian personality. Harper.

⚃ Aho, J. (2019). Revisiting authoritarianism. Critical Sociology, 089692051983074–089692051983074. https://doi.org/10.1177/0896920519830749

⚃ Albertus, M., & Menaldo, V. (2018). Authoritarianism and the elite origins of democracy. Cambridge University Press.

⚃ Altemeyer, B. (1996). The authoritarian specter. Harvard University Press.

⚃ Altemeyer, B. (2006). The authoritarians. https://theauthoritarians.org/

⚃ Babones, S. (2018). The new authoritarianism: Trump, populism, and the tyranny of experts. Polity.

⚃ Balakrishnan, A. (2020). Authoritarianism. In B. J. Carducci, C. S. Nave, A. Fabio, D. H. Saklofske, & C. Stough (Eds.), The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences (1st ed., pp. 43–47). Wiley. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119547174.ch184
    Authoritarianism — a psychological construct which has been investigated since the nineteenth century — refers to an attitudinal orientation where individuals express hostility toward those who do not conform to an ideal of sameness or an expected way of being (e.g. minorities, deviants, and dissidents). Other characteristics of the authoritarian ideology are excessive concern for the opinions of authority, moral fixedness, preference for the government to be involved in personal matters, and conformist attitudes. In the political sphere, authoritarianism has been used to refer to specific political orientations, e.g. an authoritarian regime. However, in the psychological literature base, authoritarianism is seen in a broader sense and reflects a general orientation toward conformity versus deviance. In this entry, when the term authoritarianism is used it can be considered as equivalent to the term right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) which is frequently used by psychologists. Those who strongly endorse authoritarianism display a marked preference for both remaining connected with and valuing their ingroups over outsiders. Additionally, those who are more authoritarian have a greater tendency to endorse prejudice in varied forms (e.g. moral regulation or ethnocentrism). With regard to authoritarian thought processes, higher levels of authoritarianism have been linked with deficiencies in critical thinking as well as a belief in the world as being frightening and risk-laden.
   …The construct of authoritarianism subsumes three key underlying concepts which are authoritarian aggression, authoritarian submission, and conventionalism. Authoritarian aggression is the idea that authoritarians promote aggressive behaviors toward others when such behavior is supported by authority figures. This aggression is commonly directed toward those who are noticeably different (e.g. a social deviant), but can expand to anyone in the disfavor of authority figures. Authoritarian submission is the belief that members of authority (e.g. religious and political leaders) should be fervently supported. In the case of family, parental figures are seen as credible sources of authority by authoritarians. Some research suggests that while authoritarians do submit to authority, this depends on whether the authority figure has a good reputation and their actions are perceived as being in line with the goal of the collective. The degree of submission shown by authoritarians varies based on the credibility of the authority figure. Lastly, conventionalism is the principle that the existing social norms and order should be maintained.
   …The modern conceptualization of authoritarianism explicitly acknowledges that the interactive effects between the person with authoritarian predispositions and the environment either trigger or suppress the expression of authoritarian attitudes.

⚃ Brownlee, J. (2007). Authoritarianism in an age of democratization. Cambridge University Press.

⚃ Choma, B. L., & Hanoch, Y. (2017). Cognitive ability and authoritarianism: Understanding support for Trump and Clinton. Personality and Individual Differences, 106, 287–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.10.054

⚃ Conway III, L. G., Zubrod, A., Chan, L., McFarland, J. D., & Van de Vliert, E. (2023). Is the myth of left-wing authoritarianism itself a myth? Frontiers in Psychology, 13, 1041391. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1041391

⚃ Costello, T. H. (2022). The conundrum of measuring authoritarianism: A Case Study in Political Bias. In C. L. Cobb, S. J. Lynn, & W. O’Donohue (Eds.), Toward a Science of Clinical Psychology (pp. 395–411). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-14332-8_20

⚃ Costello, T. H., Bowes, S. M., & Lilienfeld, S. O. (2020). “Escape from Freedom”: Authoritarianism-related traits, political ideology, personality, and belief in free will/determinism. Journal of Research in Personality, 103957–103957. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2020.103957

⚃ Costello, T. H. (2022). The Conundrum of Measuring Authoritarianism: A Case Study in Political Bias. In C. L. Cobb, S. J. Lynn, & W. O'Donohue (Eds.), Toward a Science of Clinical Psychology (pp. 395-411). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-14332-8_20
   …from the outset, the construct of authoritarianism conflated conservatism and authoritarianism.
   …from its very origins, the authoritarianism literature has suffered from pervasive political bias at the level of both theory and measurement and practice.

⚃ de Vries, R. E., Wesseldijk, L. W., Karinen, A. K., Jern, P., & Tybur, J. M. (2022). Relations between HEXACO personality and ideology variables are mostly genetic in nature. European Journal of Personality, 36 (2), 200–217. https://doi.org/10.1177/08902070211014035

⚃ Diamond, L., Plattner, M. F., & Walker, C. (Eds.). (2016). Authoritarianism goes global: The challenge to democracy. JHU Press.

⚃ Duckitt, J. (2009). Authoritarianism and dogmatism. In M. Leary & R. Hoyle (Eds.), Handbook of individual differences in social behavior (pp. 298-317). Guilford.

⚃ Duckitt, J. (2013). Introduction to the special section on authoritarianism in societal context: The role of threat. International Journal of Psychology, 48 (1), 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1080/00207594.2012.738298

⚃ Eftedal, N. H., Kleppestø, T. H., Czajkowski, N. O., Eilertsen, E. M., Sheehy-Skeffington, J., Vassend, O., Røysamb, E., & Thomsen, L. (2020). Causality and confounding between Right Wing Authoritarianism, education, and Socio-Economic Status; a twin study [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/vws83

⚃ Ekehammar, B. O., Akrami, N., & Gylje, M. (2004). What matters most to prejudice: Big five personality , social dominance orientation , or right-wing authoritarianism? European Journal of Personality, 482 (18), 463–482. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.526

⚃ Feldman, S. (2003). Enforcing social conformity: A theory of authoritarianism. Political Psychology, 24 (1), 41–74. https://doi.org/10.1111/0162-895X.00316

⚃ Glasius, M. (2018). What authoritarianism is … and is not:∗ a practice perspective. International Affairs, 94 (3), 515–533. https://doi.org/10.1093/ia/iiy060

⚃ Gordon, P. E. (2017). The authoritarian personality revisited: Reading Adorno in the age of Trump. Boundary 2, 44 (2), 31–56.

⚃ Grzyb, T., Doliński, D., Trojanowski, J., & Bar-Tal, Y. (2017). Cognitive structuring and obedience toward authority. Personality and Individual Differences, (August). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.08.032

⚃ Harms, P. D., Wood, D., Landay, K., Lester, P. B., & Vogelgesang Lester, G. (2017). Autocratic leaders and authoritarian followers revisited: A review and agenda for the future. The Leadership Quarterly, (December), 0–1. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.12.007

⚃ Hill, S. R. (2018). Elements of authoritarianism. South Atlantic Quarterly, 117 (4), 833–843. https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-7165895

⚃ Hodson, G., MacInnis, C. C., & Busseri, M. A. (2017). Bowing and kicking: Rediscovering the fundamental link between generalized authoritarianism and generalized prejudice. Personality and Individual Differences, 104, 243–251. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.08.018

⚃ Hotchin, V., & West, K. (2018). Openness and intellect differentially predict right-wing authoritarianism. Personality and Individual Differences, 124 (December 2017), 117– 123. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2017.11.048

⚃ Husain, M. Z., & Liebertz, S. (2019a). Hitler, Stalin, and authoritarianism: A comparative analysis. The Journal of Psychohistory, 47 (1), 18–36.

⚃ Jay, M. (1973). The dialectical imagination: A history of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923-1950. Heinemann

⚃ Kandler, C., Bell, E., & Riemann, R. (2016). The structure and sources of right–wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. European Journal of Personality, 30 (4), 406–420. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.2061

⚃ Kerr, J. R., & Wilson, M. S. (2021). Right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation predict rejection of science and scientists. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 24 (4), 550–567. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430221992126

⚃ Kleppesto, T. H., Czajkowski, N. O., Vassend, O., Røysamb, E., Eftedal, N. H., Sheehy-Skeffington, J., Ystrom, E., Kunst, J. R., & Thomsen, L. (2022). The genetic underpinnings of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation explains prejudice beyond big five personality [Preprint]. PsyArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/p4qrd

⚃ Kugler, M., Jost, J. T., & Noorbaloochi, S. (2014). Another look at moral foundations theory: do authoritarianism and social dominance orientation explain liberal-conservative differences in “moral” intuitions? Social Justice Research, 27 (4), 413–431. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11211-014-0223-5

⚃ Ludeke, S., Johnson, W., & Bouchard, T. J. (2013). “Obedience to traditional authority:” A heritable factor underlying authoritarianism, conservatism and religiousness. Personality and Individual Differences, 55 (4), 375–380. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2013.03.018

⚃ Manzi, C., Roccato, M., Paderi, F., Vitrotti, S., & Russo, S. (2017). The social development of right-wing authoritarianism: The interaction between parental autonomy support and societal threat to safety. Personality and Individual Differences, 109, 1–4. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.12.032

⚃ Martin, J. L. (2001). The authoritarian personality, 50 years later: What questions are there for political psychology? Political Psychology, 22 (1), 1-26. https://www.jstor.org/stable/3791902

⚃ Maslow, A. H. (1943). The authoritarian character structure. Journal of Social Psychology, 18 , 401-411. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00224545.1943.9918794

⚃ McCourt, K., Bouchard, T. J., Lykken, D. T., Tellegen, A., & Keyes, M. (1999). Authoritarianism revisited: Genetic and environmental influences examined in twins reared apart and together. Personality and Individual Differences, 27 (5), 985–1014. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(99)00048-3

⚃ McFarland, S. (2010). Authoritarianism, social dominance, and other roots of generalized prejudice. Political Psychology, 31(3), 453–477. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9221.2010.00765.x

⚃ Meng, M. (2017). On authoritarianism. A review essay. Comparative Studies in Society and History, 59 (4), 1008–1020.

⚃ Merolla, J. L., Ramos, J. M., & Zechmeister, E. J. (2012). Authoritarianism, need for closure, and conditions of threat. In M. A. Hogg & D. Blaylock (Eds.), Extremism and the psychology of uncertainty (pp. 212-227). Wiley-Blackwell. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417517000354

⚃ Nacke, L., & Riemann, R. (2023). Two sides of the same coin? On the common etiology of Right-Wing Authoritarianism and Social Dominance Orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 207, 112160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2023.112160

⚃ Nicol, A. A. M., & De France, K. (2016). The big five’s relation with the facets of right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 98, 320–323. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2016.04.062

⚃ Osborne, D., Costello, T. H., Duckitt, J., & Sibley, C. G. (2023). The psychological causes and societal consequences of authoritarianism. Nature Reviews Psychology. https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-023-00161-4
   Debate exists over the core psychological components of authoritarianism. Some conceptualize authoritarianism as the combined tendency to obey authorities (authoritarian submission), punish rule breakers (authoritarian aggression) and conform to tradition (conventionalism)17,18,19. Others view the desire for conformity over personal autonomy as the core feature of authoritarianism15,20. Despite these differences in focus, most agree that authoritarianism involves obeying high-status leaders from advantaged groups with the power to punish marginalized groups who threaten the unanimity of in-group values. Consequently, research typically consigns authoritarianism to the political right17,18,21. Nevertheless, work in the past 20 years demonstrates that left-wing values can also be incorporated into the operationalization of authoritarianism22,23,24,25,26. Here, we take an integrative approach and argue that, at its core, authoritarianism entails the desire for group conformity at the expense of personal autonomy, accompanied by a deference to in-group authority figures and a desire to punish those who violate cherished in-group norms — regardless of whether these in-group norms reflect traditional or progressive values. We thereby acknowledge that authoritarianism can exist on both the political right and left, but recognize that it is especially prevalent among adherents of right-wing ideologies. Because we are necessarily limited by extant work in the field, our Review focuses predominately (but not exclusively) on right-wing authoritarianism.
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   According to the dual process motivational model31, right-wing authoritarianism originates from the belief that the social world is an inherently dangerous, unstable, unpredictable and threatening place. This dangerous worldview activates the motivational goal of ensuring collective security and stability through the coercive maintenance of the traditional social order. A dangerous worldview is acquired through early experience and socialization, and is influenced by personality traits that predispose an individual to social conformity31, such as low openness to experience and high conscientiousness32. The predisposition towards social conformity leads people to identify with the existing social order and to focus on threats to the status quo. In addition to the indirect effects these personality traits have on right-wing authoritarianism through increased threat sensitivity, traits that foster social conformity directly influence right-wing authoritarianism by predisposing people to prefer order, structure, stability and security31.
    Given their origins in personality and long-term socialization processes31, dangerous and competitive worldviews are relatively stable (but are more malleable than traits). Moreover, similar to personality traits, these social worldviews can change markedly in response to relevant situational cues and generate corresponding changes in right-wing authoritarianism and social dominance orientation. Specifically, perceived threats to the social order should activate right-wing authoritarianism, whereas competitive threats should increase social dominance orientation34.
   Contemporary work builds upon this literature and posits that right-wing authoritarianism has deeper evolutionary47,48 and biological49,50,51 roots. For example, traits that foster cooperation likely developed in response to evolutionary challenges that required hominids in the Pleistocene period to cooperate to obtain high-calorie foods (such as large game)52. This transition to large-scale group living also evoked selection pressures on group members who could coordinate with each other to outperform out-groups competing with the in-group for scarce resources52. Accordingly, early hominids developed the psychological mechanisms identified by the dual process motivational model to enhance coordination with others from their in-group, including in-group identification and a motivation for conformity (for example, the desire to punish norm violators who weaken in-group coordination efforts)47,48. Remnants of the evolved psychological mechanisms that separately facilitate coordination and cooperation manifest today as (high) right-wing authoritarianism and (low) social dominance orientation, respectively.
   In addition to ostensibly arising from the evolutionary history of humans, right-wing authoritarianism covaries with physiological processes, including increased autonomic reactivity to stress70, heightened disgust sensitivity71 and stronger disease avoidance72. These findings corroborate the dual process motivational model’s assertion that right-wing authoritarianism increases people’s sensitivity to dangerous and threatening stimuli. Moreover, twin studies, which leverage the differential genetic similarities between monozygotic twins and dizygotic twins to identify the amount of phenotypic variability attributable to genes versus the environment, identify a sizable genetic component to right-wing authoritarianism49,50,51. Some twin studies even demonstrate that genes explain as much as 50% of the variance in right-wing authoritarianism73. Yet contrary to meta-analytic work showing that the variance in many personality traits is mostly explained by genes74, emerging evidence indicates that shared environments have a moderate impact on constructs related to right-wing authoritarianism including social conservatism75 and religiosity76. These latter findings corroborate initial theorizing that features of the home environment, including exposure to harsh and punitive parenting, foster right-wing authoritarianism77. Nevertheless, the broader literature identifies myriad sociobiological markers of right-wing authoritarianism.
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   Notably, the deep-seated nature of authoritarianism is evident in its evolutionary roots48 and heritability49,50,51,73, as well as its physiological70 and personality81,138 correlates. Importantly, social — but not economic — threats activate right-wing authoritarianism, which, in turn, has implications for intergroup relations (for example, prejudices are directed towards specific groups instead of out-groups in general) and broader societal attitudes such as anti-environmentalism148, science scepticism146 and conspiratorial thinking142,143.

⚃ Pettigrew, T. F. (2016). In pursuit of three theories: authoritarianism, relative deprivation, and intergroup contact. Annual Review of Psychology, 67 (1), 1–21. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-122414-033327

⚃ Prescott, S. L., & Logan, A. C. (2018). From authoritarianism to advocacy: Lifestyle-driven, socially-transmitted conditions require a transformation in medical training and practice. Challenges, 9 (1), 10–10. https://doi.org/10.3390/challe9010010

⚃ Richey, S. (2017). A birther and a truther: The influence of the authoritarian personality on conspiracy beliefs. Politics & Policy, 45 (3), 465–485. https://doi.org/10.1111/polp.12206

⚃ Rogers, C. R. (1987). Special review of “Right-wing authoritarianism.” Personality and Individual Differences, 8 (5), 771–772. http://doi.apa.org/getdoi.cfm?doi=10.1037/h0088567

⚃ Rubinstein, G. (2003). Authoritarianism and its relation to creativity: A comparative study among students of design, behavioral sciences and law. Personality and Individual Differences, 34 (4), 695–705. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00055-7

⚃ Sanford, N. (1986). A personal account of the study of authoritarianism: Comment on Samelson. Journal of Social Issues, 42 (1), 209–214. http://doi.wiley.com/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1986.tb00217.x

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⚃ Sibley, C. G., & Duckitt, J. (2012). Personality geneses of authoritarianism: The form and function of openness to experience. In F. Funke, T. Petzel, J. C. Cohrs, & J. Duckitt (Eds.), Perspectives on authoritarianism (pp. 169-199). VS Verlag.

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