Determinants of Human Rights Attitudes and Behavior: A Comparison and Integration of Psychological Perspectives

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Abstract

Following several political-psychological approaches, the present research analyzed whether orientations toward human rights are a function of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA), social dominance orientation (SDO), basic human values in the sense of Schwartz (1992), and political ideology. Three dimensions of human rights attitudes (endorsement, restriction, and enforcement) were differentiated from human rights knowledge and behavior. In a time-lagged Internet survey (N = 479), using structural equation modeling, RWA, universalism and power values, and political ideology (measured at Time 1) differentially predicted dimensions of human rights attitudes (measured at Time 2 five months later). RWA and universalism values also predicted self-reported human rights behavior, with the effects mediated through human rights endorsement. Human rights knowledge also predicted behavior. The psychological roots of positive and negative orientations toward human rights, consequences for human rights education, and the particular role of military enforcement of human rights are discussed.

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