• Political psychology

    Authoritarianism on the left and the right: A sequel

    In an earlier blog post, I discussed the problems with a new scale developed by Conway and colleagues to measure left-wing authoritarianism. I wrote that a better scale for measuring this construct could benefit research in psychology. Shortly after this, another team of researchers (Costello et al., 2021) published a new left wing authoritarianism scale. Although I have not studied this scale myself, it looks more promising and lacks the obvious problems of the Conway et al. scale. It is most likely an improvement on previous measures of left-wing authoritarianism. Nevertheless, the paper written by Costello et al. on their new scale is disappointing in some respects. A misleading narrative…

  • Political psychology

    Ideology, authoritarianism, and the asymmetry debates

    According to one of the classical psychological theories of ideology, conservatism is associated with a simple, intuitive, unsophisticated, rigid, and authoritarian cognitive and psychological style. This rather unflattering portrait of conservatives has been the target of criticism lately. Critics have argued that it is a product of a “liberal bias” and hostility toward conservatism among social and political psychologists. Studies have been designed to show that the associations between the aforementioned characteristics and political ideology are symmetrical—or in other words, that extremists of any ideological persuasion are simple-minded, rigid, authoritarian, and susceptible to cognitive biases. Some of the criticism of the classical “rigidity-of-the-right” theory is undoubtedly warranted. But the problem…