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Multidimensionality of Right-Wing Authoritarian Attitudes: Authoritarianism-Conservatism-Traditionalism



Traditionally Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA) has been seen as a unidimensional construct. Recently, however, researchers have begun to measure three distinct RWA dimensions (Feldman, 2003; Funke, 2005; Van Hiel, Cornelis, Roets, & De Clercq, 2006). One of these new multidimensional RWA approaches has conceptualized these three dimensions as Authoritarianism, Conservatism, and Traditionalism (ACT), which are viewed as expressions of basic social values or motivational goals that represent different, though related, strategies for attaining collective security at the expense of individual autonomy. Findings are reported from two studies to assess the validity and predictive utility of the multidimensional ACT approach. First, a direct cross-national comparison showed that the three ACT dimensions were reliable and factorially distinct and demonstrated the measurement invariance of the three latent constructs across Serbian and NZ (New Zealand) samples. The three ACT dimensions predicted self-reported behavior differentially in both samples, and a comparison of latent means showed the Serbian sample higher than the NZ sample on the ACT dimensions of Authoritarianism and Traditionalism but markedly lower on Conservatism. Second, a reanalysis of previously collected NZ data showed that the three ACT scales differentially predicted three dimensions of generalized prejudice in a theoretically meaningful manner. These findings underline the importance of studying ideological attitudes, such as RWA, multidimensionally.