Sept. 10, 2021 (Phys.org) -- People with extreme political views that favor authoritarianism -- whether they are on the far left or the far right -- have surprisingly similar behaviors and psychological characteristics, a new study finds.
The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology published the research by psychologists at Emory University -- the first comprehensive look at left-wing authoritarianism.
"We took the long history of research into right-wing authoritarianism and used insights from that to develop a conceptional framework and measures to test for authoritarianism in the political left," says Thomas Costello, an Emory Ph.D. student of psychology and first author of the study. "We found that in terms of their psychological characteristics and their actual behaviors, left-wing authoritarians are extremely similar to authoritarians on the right."
Right-wing authoritarians tend to aggressively back the established hierarchy, while left-wing authoritarians tend to aggressively oppose it. They are almost like mirror images of one another that both share a common psychological core, the researchers conclude.