STUDY ALERT: Does Left-Wing Authoritarianism Exist in the United States?

by Scott Barry Kaufman, November 19, 2018 in Study Alerts


Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States

Lucian Gideon Conway, III, Shannon C. Houck, Luara Janelle Gornick, & Meredith A. Repke

Although past research suggests authoritarianism may be a uniquely right-wing phenomenon, the present two studies tested the hypothesis that authoritarianism exists in both right-wing and left-wing contexts in essentially equal degrees. Across two studies, university (n 5 475) and Mechanical Turk (n 5 298) participants completed either the RWA (right-wing authoritarianism) scale or a newly developed (and parallel) LWA (left-wing authoritarianism) scale. Participants further completed measurements of ideology and three domain-specific scales: prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. Findings from both studies lend support to an authoritarianism symmetry hypothesis: Significant positive correlations emerged between LWA and measurements of liberalism, prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. These results largely paralleled those correlating RWA with identical conservative-focused measurements, and an overall effect-size measurement showed LWA was similarly related to those constructs (compared to RWA) in both Study 1 and Study 2. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that LWA may be a viable construct in ordinary U.S. samples.

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