The curious case of left-wing authoritarianism: When authoritarian persons meet anti-authoritarian norms

Lucian Gideon Conway, James D. McFarland, Thomas H. Costello, Scott O. Lilienfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Left-wing authoritarianism (LWA) has a controversial history in psychology. Some researchers have expressed skepticism about the existence of LWA, whereas others have argued that LWA is a valid construct. In the present article, we offer a framework to reconcile these two perspectives by proposing that ideologically based authoritarian norms are sometimes in conflict with the processes that create authoritarian individuals. In Western political contexts, authoritarian norms are more likely to occur on the conservative side of the political spectrum; but authoritarian attributes can occur in both conservatives and liberals. In our model, left-wing authoritarians thus often occupy the space where forces influencing authoritarianism are in conflict. We review existing evidence related to the model, present novel evidence related to the model, derive four hypotheses from the model, and discuss criteria for falsifying the model. We conclude by considering the model's place in current research on the complexities of ideology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)423-442
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Theoretical Social Psychology
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2021

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