Right-Wing Authoritarianism, Attitude Salience, and Beliefs about Matters of Fact



Previous investigations have demonstrated a relationship between endorsement of right-wing authoritarian (RWA) ideology and attitudes toward social and societal issues (e.g., abortion, drug use, affirmative action, and homosexuality). By contrast, the present studies examined the relationship between RWA and beliefs about matters of fact bearing on such issues (e.g., estimates of the prevalence of third trimester abortions, AIDS, concealed weapons). Studies 1 and 2 supported the propositions that high-RWA and low-RWA participants would show differences in their informational beliefs about sociopolitical matters consistent with differences in their respective ideologies and consistent with their putative differential cynicism about human nature. Study 3 demonstrated that the relationship between RWA and informational beliefs is amplified by the heightened salience of attitudes toward the targets of those beliefs.