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Personality and Support for Universal Human Rights: A Review and Test of a Structural Model


concerning this article should be addressed to Sam McFarland, Department of Psychology, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY 42101. Email:


ABSTRACT All individual differences that predict support for international human rights are first reviewed: support for human rights is linked most positively to “globalism” (other international and environmental concerns), “identification with all humanity,” principled moral reasoning, benevolence, and dispositional empathy. It is related most negatively to ethnocentrism and its root dispositions, the social dominance orientation, and authoritarianism. Other correlates are also noted. Secondly, a structural model of the effects of authoritarianism, social dominance, ethnocentrism and identification with all humanity upon commitment to human rights is presented and tested. Across 2 studies (Study 1, N=218 nonstudent adults; Study 2, N=102 university students), ethnocentrism and identification with all humanity directly predicted human rights commitment. The effects of authoritarianism upon this commitment were fully mediated through enhanced ethnocentrism and reduced identification with all humanity. The effects of social dominance were similar, but its direct effect upon human rights commitment remained significant and was not, in the second study, mediated by reduced dispositional empathy.