Saturday, March 30, 2013

Conservative Pathological Authoritarian Personality Disorder

Conservatism and Pathological Authoritarian Personality Disorder
"...A quintessential kiss-up, kick-down kind of guy." - said of Bush United States Delegate, John Bolton.

Although we will never exhaust the subject of Conservative stupidity since scientific studies seem to abound each year ( AND, the other half of the Conservative mindset, the Authoritarian Personality, needs to be covered more completely than our original article (

First, from the entry, "The Authoritarian Personality," at Wikipedia:

"Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterised by one's belief in absolute obedience or submission to one's own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one's subordinates. It usually applies to individuals who are known or viewed as having an authoritative, strict, or oppressive personality towards subordinates.

"Current reinterpretations

"Bob Altemeyer ( a retired Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba.[1][2]He did extensive research on authoritarianism, identifying the psychological makeup of authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders. His studies concentrated on who the followers are, how they got that way, how they think, and why they are by turns so submissive and aggressive. He also collected data on authoritarianism among North American politicians. Altemeyer's work is extensively referenced in John W. Dean's 2006 book,Conservatives Without Conscience.[3][4] At Dean's suggestion, he wrote an "everyperson" account of his findings, The Authoritarians, which is freely available online.[5]) conducted a series of studies on what he labeled Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), and presents the most recent analysis of this personality type.[11] The focus of RWA research is political preferences as measured through surveys, that suggest three tendencies as noted in attitudinal clusters. These are: 1) submission to legitimated authorities; 2) aggression towards sanctioned targeted minority groups; and 3) adherence to values and beliefs perceived as endorsed by followed leadership.

The entry, "Right-wing authoritarianism," at Wikipedia:

Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) is a personality and ideological variable studied in political, social, and personality psychology. Right-wing authoritarians are people who have a high degree of willingness to submit to authorities they perceive as established and legitimate, who adhere to societal conventions and norms, and who are hostile and punitive in their attitudes towards people who don't adhere to them. They value uniformity and are in favour of using group authority, including coercion, to achieve it.[1]


"The concept of right-wing authoritarianism was introduced in 1981 by Canadian-American psychologist Bob Altemeyer,[2] as a refinement of the authoritarian personality theory originally pioneered by University of California at Berkeley researchers Theodor W. Adorno, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, Daniel Levinson, and Nevitt Sanford.[3] After extensive questionnaire research and statistical analysis, Altemeyer found that only three of the original nine hypothesized components of the model correlated together: authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. Researchers have traditionally assumed that there was just one kind of authoritarian personality, who could be either a follower or a leader. The discovery that followers and leaders are usually different types of authoritarians is based on research done by Sam McFarland.[4]

"Right-wing authoritarians want society and social interactions structured in ways that increase uniformity and minimize diversity. In order to achieve that, they tend to be in favour of social control, coercion, and the use of group authority to place constraints on the behaviours of people such as gays and lesbians, political dissidents, ethnic minorities, immigrants, feminists and atheists. These constraints might include restrictions on immigration, limits on free speech and association and laws regulating moral behaviour. It is the willingness to support or take action that leads to increased social uniformity that makes right-wing authoritarianism more than just a personal distaste for difference. Right-wing authoritarianism is characterized by obedience to authority, moral absolutism, racial and ethnic prejudice, and intolerance and punitiveness towards dissidents and deviants. In parenting, right-wing authoritarians value children's obedience, neatness, and good manners.[1]

"Right-wing authoritarianism is defined by three attitudinal and behavioral clusters which correlate together:[12][13]
Authoritarian submission — a high degree of submissiveness to the authorities who are perceived to be established and legitimate in the society in which one lives.
Authoritarian aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities.
Conventionalism — a high degree of adherence to the traditions and social norms that are perceived to be endorsed by society and its established authorities, and a belief that others in one's society should also be required to adhere to these norms.[14]
"The terminology of authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, and authoritarian personality tend to be used interchangeably by psychologists, though inclusion of the term 'personality' may indicate a psychodynamic interpretation consistent with the original formulation of the theory."

Those of us who have had to interact with Conservative Sheeplets are familiar with one of the attitudinal behaviors that characterize the Right-Wing Authoritarian, "Authoritarian Aggression — a general aggressiveness directed against deviants, outgroups, and other people that are perceived to be targets according to established authorities."  And we can only sit back and chuckle when explaining to a recalcitrant Sheeplet that of course they are victims of their own Authoritarian Agression.

And many of us have encountered the standard response by the Sheeplets that Authoritarianism is also a feature of  the left-wing personality, BUT:

"Right and left

"The phrase right wing in right-wing authoritarianism does not necessarily refer to someone's politics, but to psychological preferences and personality. It means that the person tends to follow the established conventions and authorities in society. In theory, the authorities could have either right-wing or left-wing political views.[15]

"Milton Rokeach's dogmatism scale was an early attempt to measure pure authoritarianism, whether left or right. The scale was carefully designed to measure closed-mindedness without regard to ideology. Nevertheless, researchers found that it correlated with British political conservativism.[16] In a similar line of research, Philip Tetlock found that right wing beliefs are associated with lessintegrative complexity than left wing beliefs. People with moderate liberal attitudes had the highest integrative complexity in their cognitions.[17]

"There have been a number of other attempts to identify "left-wing authoritarians" in the United States and Canada. These would be people who submit to leftist authorities, are highly conventional to liberal viewpoints, and are aggressive to people who oppose left-wing ideology. These attempts have failed because measures of authoritarianism always correlate at least slightly with the right. There are certainly extremists across the political spectrum, but most psychologists now believe that authoritarianism is a predominantly right-wing phenomenon.[18]

"Although authoritarians in North America generally support conservative political parties, this finding must be considered in a historical and cultural context. For example, during the Cold War, authoritarians in the United States were usually anti-communist, whereas in the Soviet Union, authoritarians generally supported the Communist Party and were opposed to capitalism.[19] Thus, authoritarians generally favor the established ways and oppose social and political change. Hence, even politics usually labeled as right or left-wing is not descriptive. While Communism in the Soviet Union is seen as leftist, it still inspired the same responses. This leaves questions over what makes various ideologies left or right open to interpretation.[citation needed]

"According to Karen Stenner, an Australian professor who specializes in authoritarianism, racism and intolerance, authoritarianism is different from conservatism because authoritarianism reflects aversion to difference across space (i.e., diversity of people and beliefs at any given moment), while conservatism reflects aversion to difference over time (i.e., change). Conservatives, Stenner argues, will embrace racial diversity, civil liberties and moral freedom to the extent they are already institutionalized authoritatively-supported traditions, and are therefore supportive of social stability. Conservatives tend to be drawn to authoritarianism when public opinion is fractious and there is a loss of confidence in public institutions, but in general they value stability and certainty over increased uniformity. Authoritarians however, Stenner says, want difference restricted even when so doing would require significant social change and instability.[1]"

Parenthetically, we might say that while all Conservatives aren't necessarily Authoritarian, most all Authoritarians are Conservatives -- a description of the differences between Conservative leaders and their Sheeplets, a corollary of the old maxim, "the Republican Party is made up of a whole lot of stupid people (the Sheeplets and Tea Party leaders), and a few smart ones (the GOP Establishment leaders."


"According to research by Altemeyer, right-wing authoritarians tend to exhibit cognitive errors and symptoms of faulty reasoning. Specifically, they are more likely to make incorrect inferences from evidence and to hold contradictory ideas that result from compartmentalized thinking. They are also more likely to uncritically accept insufficient evidence that supports their beliefs, and they are less likely to acknowledge their own limitations.[13] Whether right-wing authoritarians are less intelligent than average is disputed, with Stenner arguing that variables such as high verbal ability (indicative of high cognitive capacity) have a very substantial ameliorative effect in diminishing authoritarian tendencies.[1] Measured against other factors of personality, authoritarians generally score lower on openness to experience and slightly higher on conscientiousness.[20]

"Altemeyer suggested that authoritarian politicians are more likely to be in the Conservative or Reform party in Canada, or the Republican Party in the United States. They generally have a conservative economic philosophy, are highly nationalistic, oppose abortion, support capital punishment, oppose gun control legislation, and do not value social equality.[13] The RWA scale reliably correlates with political party affiliation, reactions to Watergate, pro-capitalist attitudes, religious orthodoxy, and acceptance of covert governmental activities such as illegal wiretaps.[13]Although authoritarianism is correlated with conservative political ideology, not all authoritarians are conservative, and not all conservatives are authoritarian. It is also worth noting that many authoritarians have no interest in politics.

"Authoritarians are generally more favorable to punishment and control than personal freedom and diversity. For example, they are more willing to suspend constitutional guarantees of liberty such as the Bill of Rights. They are more likely to advocate strict, punitive sentences for criminals,[21] and report that punishing such people is satisfying for them. They tend to be ethnocentric and prejudiced against racial and ethnic minorities[22] and homosexuals.[23] However, Stenner argues that authoritarians will support programs intended to increase opportunities for minority groups, such as affirmative action, if they believe such programs will lead to greater societal uniformity.[1]

"In role playing situations, authoritarians tend to seek dominance over others by being competitive and destructive instead of cooperative.

In a study by Altemeyer, 68 authoritarians played a three hour simulation of the Earth's future entitled the Global change game. Unlike a comparison game played by individuals with low RWA scores, which resulted in world peace and widespread international cooperation, the simulation by authoritarians became highly militarized and eventually entered the stage of nuclear war. By the end of the high RWA game, the entire population of the earth was declared dead.[13]

"The vast majority of research on right-wing authoritarianism has been done in the United States and Canada. A recent (2003) cross-cultural study, however, examined the relation between authoritarianism and individualism-collectivism in samples from Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, and the U.S.A. (total N = 1,018). Both at the individual level and the societal level, authoritarianism was correlated with vertical individualism (or dominance seeking) and vertical or hierarchical collectivism, which is the tendency to submit to the demands of one's ingroup.[24] A study done on both Israeli and Palestinian students in Israel found that RWA scores of right-wing party supporters were significantly higher than those of left-wing party supporters, and scores of secular subjects were lowest.[25]

"Right-wing authoritarianism has been found to correlate only slightly with Social Dominance Orientation (SDO). Together they are strong predictors of a variety of prejudices such as sexism,racism, and heterosexism. The two measures can be thought of as two sides of the same coin: RWA provides submissive followers, and SDO provides power-seeking leaders.[4]


"Altemeyer's research on authoritarianism has been challenged by psychologist John J. Ray, who questions the sampling methods used and the ability of the RWA Scale to predict authoritarian behavior and provides evidence that the RWA scale measures conservatism rather than "directiveness", a construct that John J. Ray invented and that he relates to authoritarianism.[26][27] Ray's approach is, however, a minority position among researchers [28] and other psychologists have found that both the RWA Scale and the original F-Scale are good predictors of both attitudes and behavior.[29]

"A recent refinement to this body of research was presented in Karen Stenner's 2005 book, The Authoritarian Dynamic.[30] Stenner argues that RWA is best understood as expressing a dynamic response to external threat, not a static disposition based only on the traits of submission, aggression, and conventionalism. Stenner is critical of Altemeyer's social learning interpretation and argues that it cannot account for how levels of authoritarianism fluctuate with social conditions. She argues that the RWA Scale can be viewed as a measure of expressed authoritarianism, but that other measures are needed to assess authoritarian predispositions which interact with threatening circumstances to produce the authoritarian response.

"Recent criticism has also come as a result of treating RWA as uni-dimensional even in contexts where it makes no sense to do so. For example, RWA has been used in regression analyses with fundamentalism as another predictor, and attitudes to homosexuality and racism as the outcomes.[31] This research seemed to show that, for example, Fundamentalism would be associated with reduced racism once the authoritarian component was removed, and this was summarized in a recent review of the field.[32] However, since the RWA scale has items that also measure fundamentalist religiosity, and attitudes to homosexuality, this undermines the interpretation of such analyses.[33]"

So we not only know now that "stupidity" is only part of the right-wing personality, but that Authoritarianism is the other half.

A scholar paper, "Change in the Conservative Personality Equals Change in the Offender with a Resultant Reduction in Recidivism," by Michael D. Parsons and Jennifer G. Parsons, concluded:

"If those negative characteristics associated with the conservative personality could be modified, then it would have been possible to ameliorate some of the violent behavior of offenders while incarcerated and reduced recidivism."

As we've been suggesting from the beginnings of this site, while stupidity and Authoritarianism may be hard-wired in the Conservative Sheeplets, after Conservatism is criminalized, we should rehabilitate, not punish them - saving punishment for the leadership who usually knows better, who are the leaders of the vast right-wing criminal conspiracy called Conservatism.


"You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading

Ray Bradbury