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Does authoritarianism imply ethnocentric national attitudes: A revised look at the “authoritarian triad” and right‐wing ideology

European Journal of Social Psychology

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Dozens of studies have shown that authoritarian people are ethnocentric. They are described as nationalistic, prejudiced, and hostile toward ethnic/national out‐groups. However, it can be argued that this critical claim remains unproven, as researchers do not take into consideration the very conservative right‐wing views typical of authoritarian people. To address this problem, two theoretical approaches were contrasted: the most commonly used right‐wing authoritarianism (RWA) approach and the group authoritarianism approach. Both approaches define authoritarianism as the covariance of submission, aggression, and conventionalism, but they differ in that the former is inextricably related to right‐wing ideology while the latter is not. This paper presents the results of two survey studies conducted on samples of 600 and 400 respondents. In Study 1, it was found that RWA and group authoritarianism had different patterns of relationships with in‐group and out‐group national attitudes, providing strong evidence in support of the hypothesis that the right‐wing ideology generated ethnocentric national attitudes. Study 2 showed a strong direct effect of right‐wing ideology on ethnocentric national attitudes, while the impact of “pure” authoritarian covariance is marginal and sometimes even seems to be negative (e.g., ethnic prejudices). These findings suggest that authoritarianism has little to do with ethnocentric national attitudes. It is not the covariance of authoritarian attitudes that results in growing ethnocentrism. The true perpetrator can be found in the large component of right‐wing ideology contained in such measurement instruments as the RWA scale.