The "antidemocratic personality" revisited: A cross-national investigation of working-class authoritarianism

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

More than 60 years ago, psychologists identified a potential threat to democracy from within, namely the "antidemocratic personality" arising from the "authoritarian syndrome." It was soon discovered that the problem of authoritarianism was especially acute among those who were low in education and income, and that it was associated with intolerance toward others. However, several important questions were left unresolved. We revisit fundamental theoretical and empirical questions concerning the existence and nature of "working-class authoritarianism," focusing especially on four psychological aspects of authoritarianism, namely, conventionalism, moral absolutism, obedience to authority, and cynicism. In a cross-national investigation involving respondents from 19 democratic countries, we find that all four aspects of authoritarianism are indeed related to moral and ethnic intolerance. However, only obedience to authority and cynicism are especially prevalent among those who are low in socioeconomic status. Conventionalism and moral absolutism were significant predictors of economic conservatism, whereas obedience to authority and cynicism were not. We find no support for Lipset's (1960) claim that working-class authoritarianism would be associated with economic liberalism. Instead, we find that authoritarianism is linked to right-wing orientation in general and that intolerance mediates this relationship. Implications for electoral politics and political psychology are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-617
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Social Issues
Volume64
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

Fingerprint

authoritarianism
working class
personality
obedience
conventionalism
absolutism
tolerance
economic liberalism
political psychology
conservatism
psychologist
social status
threat
democracy
income
politics
economics
education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

Cite this

@article{c25761b6be1548c4b9d3e4587748431c,
title = "The {"}antidemocratic personality{"} revisited: A cross-national investigation of working-class authoritarianism",
abstract = "More than 60 years ago, psychologists identified a potential threat to democracy from within, namely the {"}antidemocratic personality{"} arising from the {"}authoritarian syndrome.{"} It was soon discovered that the problem of authoritarianism was especially acute among those who were low in education and income, and that it was associated with intolerance toward others. However, several important questions were left unresolved. We revisit fundamental theoretical and empirical questions concerning the existence and nature of {"}working-class authoritarianism,{"} focusing especially on four psychological aspects of authoritarianism, namely, conventionalism, moral absolutism, obedience to authority, and cynicism. In a cross-national investigation involving respondents from 19 democratic countries, we find that all four aspects of authoritarianism are indeed related to moral and ethnic intolerance. However, only obedience to authority and cynicism are especially prevalent among those who are low in socioeconomic status. Conventionalism and moral absolutism were significant predictors of economic conservatism, whereas obedience to authority and cynicism were not. We find no support for Lipset's (1960) claim that working-class authoritarianism would be associated with economic liberalism. Instead, we find that authoritarianism is linked to right-wing orientation in general and that intolerance mediates this relationship. Implications for electoral politics and political psychology are discussed.",
author = "Napier, {Jaime L.} and Jost, {John T.}",
year = "2008",
doi = "10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00579.x",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "64",
pages = "595--617",
journal = "Journal of Social Issues",
issn = "0022-4537",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "3",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - The "antidemocratic personality" revisited

T2 - A cross-national investigation of working-class authoritarianism

AU - Napier, Jaime L.

AU - Jost, John T.

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - More than 60 years ago, psychologists identified a potential threat to democracy from within, namely the "antidemocratic personality" arising from the "authoritarian syndrome." It was soon discovered that the problem of authoritarianism was especially acute among those who were low in education and income, and that it was associated with intolerance toward others. However, several important questions were left unresolved. We revisit fundamental theoretical and empirical questions concerning the existence and nature of "working-class authoritarianism," focusing especially on four psychological aspects of authoritarianism, namely, conventionalism, moral absolutism, obedience to authority, and cynicism. In a cross-national investigation involving respondents from 19 democratic countries, we find that all four aspects of authoritarianism are indeed related to moral and ethnic intolerance. However, only obedience to authority and cynicism are especially prevalent among those who are low in socioeconomic status. Conventionalism and moral absolutism were significant predictors of economic conservatism, whereas obedience to authority and cynicism were not. We find no support for Lipset's (1960) claim that working-class authoritarianism would be associated with economic liberalism. Instead, we find that authoritarianism is linked to right-wing orientation in general and that intolerance mediates this relationship. Implications for electoral politics and political psychology are discussed.

AB - More than 60 years ago, psychologists identified a potential threat to democracy from within, namely the "antidemocratic personality" arising from the "authoritarian syndrome." It was soon discovered that the problem of authoritarianism was especially acute among those who were low in education and income, and that it was associated with intolerance toward others. However, several important questions were left unresolved. We revisit fundamental theoretical and empirical questions concerning the existence and nature of "working-class authoritarianism," focusing especially on four psychological aspects of authoritarianism, namely, conventionalism, moral absolutism, obedience to authority, and cynicism. In a cross-national investigation involving respondents from 19 democratic countries, we find that all four aspects of authoritarianism are indeed related to moral and ethnic intolerance. However, only obedience to authority and cynicism are especially prevalent among those who are low in socioeconomic status. Conventionalism and moral absolutism were significant predictors of economic conservatism, whereas obedience to authority and cynicism were not. We find no support for Lipset's (1960) claim that working-class authoritarianism would be associated with economic liberalism. Instead, we find that authoritarianism is linked to right-wing orientation in general and that intolerance mediates this relationship. Implications for electoral politics and political psychology are discussed.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=48949097234&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=48949097234&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00579.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1540-4560.2008.00579.x

M3 - Article

VL - 64

SP - 595

EP - 617

JO - Journal of Social Issues

JF - Journal of Social Issues

SN - 0022-4537

IS - 3

ER -