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Monday, December 4, 2023

The psychological causes and societal consequences of authoritarianism

Osborne, D., Costello, T. H., Duckitt, J., & 
Sibley, C. G. (2023).
Nature reviews psychology, 2(4), 220–232.


Over the past two decades, citizens' political rights and civil liberties have declined globally. Psychological science can play an instrumental role in both explaining and combating the authoritarian impulses that underlie these attacks on personal autonomy. In this Review, we describe the psychological processes and situational factors that foster authoritarianism, as well as the societal consequences of its apparent resurgence within the general population. First, we summarize the dual process motivational model of ideology and prejudice, which suggests that viewing the world as a dangerous, but not necessarily competitive, place plants the psychological seeds of authoritarianism. Next, we discuss the evolutionary, genetic, personality and developmental antecedents to authoritarianism and explain how contextual threats to safety and security activate authoritarian predispositions. After examining the harmful consequences of authoritarianism for intergroup relations and broader societal attitudes, we discuss the need to expand the ideological boundaries of authoritarianism and encourage future research to investigate both right-wing and left-wing variants of authoritarianism.

Here is my summary:

The article explores the complex interplay between individual psychological factors and societal dynamics that contribute to the rise and impact of authoritarianism. It delves into the dual process motivational model of ideology and prejudice, suggesting that perceiving the world as dangerous, but not necessarily competitive, fosters authoritarian tendencies.

The article highlights the role of evolutionary, genetic, personality, and developmental antecedents in shaping authoritarian predispositions. It emphasizes how contextual threats to safety and security can activate these predispositions, leading to increased support for authoritarian leaders and policies.

Furthermore, the article discusses the societal consequences of authoritarianism, including prejudice, intergroup conflict, and the suppression of individual rights and freedoms. It underscores the importance of understanding the psychological roots of authoritarianism to effectively combat its harmful effects.