Setting the record straight: System justification and rigidity-of-the-right in contemporary Hungarian politics

John T. Jost, Anna Kende

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite international concern about the resurgence of right-wing authoritarianism and xenophobic prejudice throughout Central and Eastern Europe, researchers have argued recently that rightists may be less cognitively rigid and system-justifying than liberals and leftists in the context of Hungary (Kelemen, Szabó, Mészáros, László, & Forgas, 2014; Lönnqvist, Szabó, & Kelemen, 2019). We identify shortcomings of the research on which these claims are based and provide evidence that “rigidity-of-the-right” does indeed characterise contemporary Hungarian politics. Specifically, we hired professional survey firms to administer measures of personal needs for order and structure, system justification and political orientation to two large, nationally representative samples in Hungary. Results revealed that self-identified rightists scored higher than leftists on needs for order and structure and system justification (Study 1, N = 1005) and that supporters of right-wing parties (Fidesz and Jobbik) scored higher on both general and economic system justification than supporters of liberal and leftist parties (Study 2, N = 886). In exploratory analyses, we also observed that rightists expressed more intolerance than leftists toward groups that are commonly mistreated in Eastern Europe, including the Roma, religious minorities and sexual minorities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-115
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Volume55 Suppl 1
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Cognitive rigidity
  • Ideology far right
  • Political psychology
  • System justification
  • Hungary
  • Humans
  • Adult
  • Politics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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