Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics

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The first part has to do with the roots of ideology in psychology, brain science, and genetics. To what extent are our political beliefs determined by inherited personality types, brain structures, and even DNA? This has been the subject of a lot of interesting scientific work over the past decade. Chris Mooney points us to some recent research in The Journal of Politics that traces ideological differences all the way to specific sets of genes. That kind of stuff is obviously tentative and early. A somewhat more robust set of studies traces those differences to structures in the brain.

And the evidence for the existence and heritability of divergent personality types is solid. John Jost of New York University has been studying the psychological roots of ideology for years. What are those differences? What Jost and others have done is test preferences along several axes: stability vs. Obviously individual personalities fall all along a spectrum, but in every case, conservatives tend to prefer the former, liberals the latter. At the far conservative end of the spectrum one finds the authoritarian personality : extremely hostile to change, intolerant of ambiguity or difference, and highly attuned to established hierarchy.


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Authoritarianism and Polarization in American Politics

This book argues that they are and that the reason is growing polarization of worldviews - what guides people's view of right and wrong and good and evil. These differences in worldview are rooted in what Marc J. Hetherington and Jonathan D. Weiler describe as authoritarianism.


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They show that differences of opinion concerning the most provocative issues on the contemporary issue agenda - about race, gay marriage, illegal immigration, and the use of force to resolve security problems - reflect differences in individuals' levels of authoritarianism. This makes authoritarianism an especially compelling explanation of contemporary American politics.

Events and strategic political decisions have conspired to make all these considerations more salient. The authors demonstrate that the left and the right have coalesced around these opposing worldviews, which has provided politics with more incandescent hues than before. Shipping and handling. Use the link below to share a full-text version of this article with your friends and colleagues.

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Learn more. Volume 32 , Issue 2. The full text of this article hosted at iucr.

Authoritarianism: The political science that explains Trump

If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Political Psychology Volume 32, Issue 2. Read the full text.