Jun 11, Whitaker rated it really liked it Recommended to Whitaker by: Manny Update 26 January The Atlantic had a very troubling report on Trump that started: During his sole press conference as president-elect, on January 11, Donald Trump seemed to promise more favorable treatment for states that had voted for him in the election. We focused very hard in those states and they really reciprocated, he said. And those states are gonna have a lot of jobs and theyre gonna have a lot of security. Theyre going to have a lot of good news for their veterans.
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After screening participants using a personality survey disguised as an opinion poll, he selected 68 highly authoritarian college students to play a political governance and resource management simulation called the Global Change Game.
In this game, each player represents million people in one of nine different regions of the world. Play consists of making decisions about how to deal with various social, economic, and environmental matters. Lose access to one factor, and you earn a black armband.
Earn three black armbands and all the people you represent die. Success in war means increased territory and assets. But that day in , Bob Altemeyer used it for a different purpose: to see what would happen in a world populated exclusively by right-wing authoritarians. An authoritarian follower submits excessively to some authorities, aggresses in their name, and insists on everyone following their rules.
First, the Elite from the Middle East doubled the price of oil. Then, the former Soviet Union invaded North America, causing a nuclear holocaust that killed all 7. The end. In this instance, because nuclear annihilation happened so early, facilitators restarted the game from nearly the beginning. Given a second chance, the former Soviet Union opted for conventional warfare instead of a nuclear strike, invading China and killing million people.
One Elite called a United Nations-style meeting to discuss future crises, but the participants could not reach any agreements. The pre-programmed ozone-layer crisis occurred. No one even bothered to call a summit this time. Europe was the only region to voluntarily reduce emissions. Poverty spread in the underdeveloped regions as populations soared, a situation compounded by a general refusal to promote birth control.
Latin America converted much of its trees to one species, the one that produced the most profitable lumber despite being warned that this would make their ecosystem vulnerable.
Elites neglected the social, environmental, and economic issues of their regions, choosing to use their resources to increase military power and their own personal wealth instead. By the end of the game, the authoritarians had divided their world into armed camps, each threatening the others with nuclear war. Over a billion people died of starvation and disease, bringing the final death toll to 2. The first thing they did was to create, by mutual consent, a worldwide organization to deal with major issues.
No wars or threats of wars occurred. The North American Elite tried to start one, but the others in his region would not allow it. The number of armies assigned at the beginning dropped as time went on. When facilitators announced the scheduled global warming crisis, the Elites met as agreed and contributed enough money to buy technology to replenish the ozone layer.
By the end of the game, the world population had increased to 8. Demilitarization, mutually beneficial trading, sustainable economic programs, and low levels of money hoarding by the Elites the North American Elite won that secret game contributed to what was a highly successful run of the game compared to most.
Cooperation predominated in the low-RWA run of the game, with the person who assumed the role of the Elite from North America being the only monkey wrench in the works. What is Right Wing Authoritarianism? Right Wing Authoritarianism is defined by three personality aspects: degree of submission to established and legitimate societal authorities, levels of aggression in the name of these authorities, and level of conventionalism. The question Right-Wing Authoritarian scale found on page 11 of The Authoritarians measures these personality aspects.
It has been extensively revised and refined since then. The survey is well-regarded in the psychological research community, where it has proven accurate in predicting of authoritarian attitudes and behavior. They believe the things their authorities tell them even if there is evidence to the contrary. And when those authorities do something wrong, authoritarians do not blame them.
High-RWAs tend to value lawfulness above human life, except when the law-breaker is one of their treasured authority figures.
Instead, they appear to think that authorities are above the law, and can decide which laws apply to them and which do not—just as parents can when one is young. Instead they aggress when they believe right and might are on their side.
Women, children, and others unable to defend themselves are typical victims. Since the punishment was sanctioned by the experimenter, this opened the door for the authoritarian. Conventionalism Authoritarian followers tend to believe that everyone should have to follow the norms and customs of the authorities they consider legitimate.
I grew up with the people described in the pages of this book. They were my parents, Sunday school teachers, Christian school teachers, Christian camp counselors, and church-going associates. After realizing fundamentalist Christians were either unaware of or in denial of some very powerful motivations for their beliefs, beliefs that now looked to me like elaborate justifications for pre-existing attitudes, valuable more for their comforting effect than their truthfulness I became much more skeptical of their claims.
It would be a few years before I would arrive at the conclusion of atheism, however. I highly suggest reading the whole thing. But if you would like to read a list of some of his points on Right Wing Authoritarian followers that I found interesting, read on. Anything in quotation marks comes directly from the book. Our behavior says how authoritarian we are. They continued to be more willing when the targeted group was switched to Communists, homosexuals, political radicals, journalists, or the Ku Klux Klan.
And shockingly, when Altemeyer after explaining to the respondents what a high-RWA was changed the scenario to make high-RWAs the group targeted by the government, they still continued to favor the law more than others! Authoritarian followers tend not to develop their ideas, but copy them from others. This results in poor reasoning skills, as shown on tests where high-RWAs more often than others incorrectly identify syllogistic fallacies as sound so long as they agree with the conclusion.
Overall, the authoritarians had lots of trouble simply thinking straight. Secondly, they talked to their friends who believed in God. Or they talked with their parents. Or they read scriptures. In other words, they seldom made a two-sided search of the issue.
Basically they seem to have been seeking reassurance about the Divinity, not pro- and con- arguments about its existence—probably because they were terrified of the implications if there is no God. When I asked students if there was anything they were reluctant to admit about themselves to themselves, high RWAs led everyone else in saying, no, they were completely honest with themselves.
When given negative results which were actually randomly assigned in what they thought was a self-esteem test measuring potential for success in life, high-RWAs did not want to see evidence of the validity of the test. Only when they received positive results did they want to learn more about the test. This was not true of low-RWAs, who wanted to see the evidence either way. High-RWAs associate mostly with people who have the same beliefs and opinions as they do, and thus have little idea how much they differ from others.
Loyalty to that group ranks among the highest virtues, and members of the group who question its leaders or beliefs can quickly be seen as traitors. They ignore the reasons someone might have for lying when they find those lies agreeable.
They are only critical of the motives of others when they find their message disagreeable. High-RWAs are dogmatic.
Dogmatism is by far the best fall-back defense, the most impregnable castle, that ignorance can find. This is especially so when the victim has done something the authoritarian disapproves of e. But it even shows up in some situations in which the victim was utterly blameless. Altemeyer goes on to discuss many more interesting aspects of authoritarianism in great and enlightening detail. He investigates religious fundamentalism at length.
He also looks at why people become authoritarians, suggesting that in addition to possible genetic factors influencing dominance and submission behaviors, the homogenous culture preferred by authoritarian followers prevents them from having too many experiences with outsiders that might call their dogma into question. Share this:.
About This website places at your disposal a free ebook entitled The Authoritarians. I wrote this book in when a great deal seemed to be going wrong in America, and I thought the research on authoritarian personalities could explain a lot of it. The book is set in that era, but you will have no trouble finding present-day examples of what the experiments found back then. Many people, including I, have labeled Donald Trump an authoritarian leader. But they are honestly baffled by the loyalty of his followers. The decades of research on authoritarian followers provide some answers. Donald Trump received
The F-scale was worded so that agreement always indicated an authoritarian response, thus leaving it susceptible to the acquiescence response bias. The RWA scale is balanced to have an equal number of pro and anti authoritarian statements. The RWA scale also has excellent internal reliability, with coefficient alpha typically measuring between 0. The current version is 22 items long. For example, in the social psychology of religion the version of the scale is still commonly used.
Bob Altemeyer’s “The Authoritarians”