Monday, April 18, 2011

Thank you Me Me, wherever you are

three-quarters empty
A commentary on Yahoo News by a person calling himself or herself “Me Me” was entitled, “Why the Conservative Base Will Always Vote Conservative.” It equates Conservatism with Authoritarianism and lists the following points (with references to Altemeyer; Haddock, Zanna, & Esses, 1993: Robert Altemeyer is a retired professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba and has written widely on Right-wing Authoritarianism. Haddock, Zanna & Esses references are to a 1993 paper on “Assessing the structure of prejudicial attitudes: The case of attitudes toward homosexuals.)
Does any of this ring bells for you?

*Authoritarianism…happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want--which often is something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.” (Altemeyer, 2006, p. 2)

*An Authoritarian is “someone who, because of his personality, submits by leaps and bows to his authorities.” (p. 8)

*Authoritarian followers usually support the established authorities in their society, such as government officials and traditional religious leaders. Such people have historically been the “proper” authorities in life, the time-honoured, entitled, customary leaders, and that means a lot to most authoritarians.” (p. 9)

*Psychologically these followers have personalities featuring:

1. a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate authorities in their society;

2. high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and

3. a high level of conventionalism (believing that everybody should have to follow the norms and customs that your authorities have decreed ).

*High authoritarians are extremely self-righteous individuals who maintain a strong acceptance of traditional (i.e. Religious) values and norms, possess a general willingness to submit to legitimate authority, and display a general tendency to aggress against others (especially those who threaten their conventional values and norms). They see their own aggressive behaviour as righteous rather than hurtful. (Haddock, Zanna, & Esses, 1993)

Authoritarians believe in traditional gender roles, racial prejudice, negative attitudes toward homosexuals, conservative (fundamental or orthodox) religious values, and are low on openness to experience. They are also extra-punitive toward law breakers. They assign longer jail times for any law breaker (no matter how small the crime), they think the crimes are more serious than most people do, and they find “common criminals” to be highly disgusting and repulsive – it makes them feel glad to be able to punish a perpetrator,

. . . But they go easy on authorities who commit crimes.

Thank you Me Me, whoever you are, for condensing some interesting research on the authoritarian mindset.

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