The authoritarian-conservatism nexus

Artur Nilsson, John T. Jost

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The authors of The Authoritarian Personality famously posited a psychological affinity between the authoritarian personality syndrome and politically conservative ideology. Seven decades later, we evaluate the empirical evidence bearing on this hypothesis. We conclude that: (a) there is a large body of evidence, including data from six continents and many different measures, documenting a positive association between authoritarianism and right-wing conservatism; (b) the association is observed in studies with ideologically neutral measures of authoritarianism, indicating that it is not a methodological artifact; (c) there is still no convincing counter-evidence that authoritarianism is equally prevalent on the left and right in Western societies, despite many attempts to procure such evidence; and (d) the authoritarian-conservatism nexus possesses both context-dependent and context-independent features. In summary, the evidence of an affinity between authoritarianism and conservatism is strong, although more research focusing on specific aspects of authoritarianism, ideological subtypes, and contextual moderators is recommended.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)148-154
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences
StatePublished - Aug 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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