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


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



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.