Leftists with extreme political views may exhibit similar psychological traits as rightists

A study has found that people who express extreme political views and advocate for authoritarianism, on either far side of the political spectrum, may demonstrate similar behaviors and psychological characteristics.

The study appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and was conducted by researchers at Emory University.

The study involved a team of researchers constructing a conceptual framework, measuring left-wing authoritarianism, then redefining the measures after testing for validity.

In the study, researchers uncovered that authoritarianism from either end of the political spectrum was predictive of exhibiting political violence.

“We find that left-wing authoritarianism, right-wing authoritarianism, and social dominance orientation reflect a shared constellation of personality traits, cognitive features, beliefs, and motivational values that might be considered the heart of authoritarianism,” according to the co-authors 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.”

“Our work should not be used as a political cudgel. Instead it should be used as a piece of information to help us understand the pull of extremism and intolerance. Having clarity about the appeal of authoritarianism may be relevant to help better understand what’s going on in the political landscape today.”

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