Right-Wing Authoritarianism: Protective Factor Against or Risk Factor for Depression?


Bart Duriez, K.U. Leuven, Department of Psychology, Tiensestraat 102, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.

E-mail: Bart.Duriez@psy.kuleuven.be


Because the authoritarian personality was introduced to explain the rise of fascism during World War II, research focused on its ability to predict prejudice, leaving its associations with well-being largely unexplored. Studies that did examine these associations yielded inconsistent results, and some authors even argued that authoritarianism buffers against the negative effects of psychological vulnerability factors (i.e. D-type personality) and negative life events on well-being, especially among people in an authoritarian environment. Using a cross-sectional community sample (N = 1010), Study 1 failed to support the idea that authoritarianism relates to depressive symptoms and buffers against the negative effects of D-type personality on depressive symptoms. Using a longitudinal college student sample (N = 499), Study 2 showed that authoritarianism did not moderate the effects of life events either and even predicted over-time increases in depressive symptoms. Using a longitudinal high school sample (N = 590), Study 3 showed that this effect emerged regardless of degree of fit with the social environment (i.e. with family and friends). Taken together, results suggest that authoritarianism constitutes a risk factor for rather than a protective factor against depressive symptoms. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.