The problem with conservatism captured in one figure

(McFarland, et al. (1992). Authoritarianism in the former Soviet Union)

Conservatism (dislike of radical change) is technically different from authoritarianism (willingness to agree with established authority), but they both heavily load on the same psychometric factor – “alphaism” in Saucier’s schema — and on a common genetic factor, so they are closely related dispositions. Moreover, the American “authoritarian” values investigated by McFarland, et al. closely overlap with (once) American conservative values. So I don’t think that I am doing “conservatism” a disservice by associating it with “authoritarianism”.

Generally, there is a lot of muddleheadedness in the field of political psychology. You have a number of progressive (read: communist) academics who try to prove that conservatives are closed minded imbeciles — and in their attempts to prove this, they muck up distinctions. The result is, for example:

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.

By which understanding Stalinists and Maoists are “rightwing” authoritarians. The bias is palpable. And the result is conceptual confusion.

Related papers of interest:

De Regt, S., Mortelmans, D., & Smits, T. (2011). Left-wing authoritarianism is not a myth, but a worrisome reality. Evidence from 13 Eastern European countries. Communist and Post-Communist Studies, 44(4), 299-308.

Hatemi, P. K., Funk, C. L., Medland, S. E., Maes, H. M., Silberg, J. L., Martin, N. G., & Eaves, L. J. (2009). Genetic and environmental transmission of political attitudes over a life time. Journal of Politics, 71(3), 1141-56.

Ludeke, S., Johnson, W., & Bouchard Jr, T. J. (2013). “Obedience to traditional authority:” A heritable factor underlying authoritarianism, conservatism and religiousness. Personality and Individual Differences.

Saucier, G. (2000). Isms and the structure of social attitudes. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(2), 366.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s