Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterized by belief in absolute obedience or submission to one's own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one's subordinates. It usually applies to individuals who are known or viewed as having an authoritative, strict, or oppressive personality towards subordinates.
After extensive questionnaire research and statistical analysis, Canadian psychologist Bob Altemeyer found in 1981 that only three of the original nine hypothesized components of the model correlated together: authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism.
Bob Altemeyer conducted a series of studies on what he labeled right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), and presents the most recent analysis of this personality type. The focus of RWA research is political preferences as measured through surveys, that suggest three tendencies as noted in attitudinal clusters. These are: 1) submission to legitimate authorities; 2) aggression towards sanctioned targeted minority groups; and 3) adherence to values and beliefs perceived as endorsed by followed leadership.
Jost, Glaser, Kruglanski, and Sulloway (2003) have proposed that authoritarianism, RWA and other similar constructs of political conservatism are a form of motivated social cognition. These researchers propose that conservatism has characteristics similar to those of authoritarianism, with resistance to change, and justification for inequality as the core components. In addition, conservative individuals have needs to manage uncertainty and threat with both situational motives (e.g., striving for security and dominance in social hierarchies) and dispositional motives (e.g., terror management and self-esteem).
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