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A Tripartite Approach to Right-Wing Authoritarianism: The Authoritarianism-Conservatism-Traditionalism Model

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Abstract

Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) has been conceptualized and measured as a unidimensional personality construct comprising the covariation of the three traits of authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. However, new approaches have criticized this conceptualization and instead viewed these three “traits” as three distinct, though related, social attitude dimensions. Here we extend this approach providing clear definitions of these three dimensions as ideological attitude constructs of Authoritarianism, Conservatism, and Traditionalism. These dimensions are seen as attitudinal expressions of basic social values or motivational goals that represent different, though related, strategies for attaining collective security at the expense of individual autonomy. We report data from five samples and three different countries showing that these three dimensions could be reliably measured and were factorially distinct. The three dimensions also differentially predicted interpersonal behaviour, social policy support, and political party support. It is argued that conceptualizing and measuring RWA as a set of three related ideological attitude dimensions may better explain complex sociopolitical phenomena than the currently dominant unidimensional personality based model.

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