Yes, it’s Saturday – I can only blame the failure to post a freebie yesterday on the holidays completely demolishing my internal sense of weekends and weekdays. That, plus the fact that I’m too immersed in lazy mode to look at a calendar. So, here’s a belated freebie.
The Friday Freebie is where I share an online, open-access resource that I think readers might find interesting and useful. Each week, I will introduce a free resource that I think will be useful to teh angry Leftists – books, podcasts, web sites, etc. The aim is to compile a toolkit for understanding and advancing progressive ideals.
This week’s freebie distills decades of psychological research into a book about the personality type that appears commonly among those who control the modern Republican Party. Bob Altemeyer, a psychology professor at Canada’s University of Manitoba, has conducted a programme of research on a personality construct that he labelled right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). Building on earlier work on authoritarianism, Altemeyer refined the concept of the authoritarian personality to identify just a few core principles (e.g., submissiveness to “legitimate” authority and hostility toward individuals and groups designated as deviant), developed an RWA scale, and investigated the relationship between authoritarian personality traits and specific attitudes and behaviours (e.g., prejudice). Although Altemeyer’s notion of RWA has been criticised by some (including retired academic and noted blogger, Dr John Ray), the majority of research building on Altemeyer’s work has found significant implications of RWA for understanding some negative aspects of human behaviour.
It is important to note that, despite its name, RWA does not correspond directly to political ideology. It is possible for left-wing political ideology to coexist with RWA personality traits (e.g., Stalin) – thus providing the grain of scientific evidence that can be misinterpreted into “horseshoe theory“. Likewise, political conservatism is not necessarily associated with RWA. However, in his latest book – “The Authoritarians” – Altemeyer argues that authoritarianism has taken over conservative politics in the United States, in the form of groups such as the Religious Right with their fundamentalist belief that society as a whole should adhere to a socially conservative form of Christian values, and the neoconservatives who have engineered an unprecedented extension of executive power within the United States and advocated imposing their “approved” sociopolitical model to “improve” and reform other nations.
I intend to return to the concept of RWA when I have the time and planning to start a regular feature on behavioural and social science issues, so this freebie provides a nice preview of the sorts of topics I hope to discuss. Anyone who is interested in learning more about Altemeyer’s work can access these resources:
- The full book of “The Authoritarians” is available for download in PDF form.
- There is a Google Group for discussing Altemeyer’s work.
- NON-FREEBIE ALERT! Although non-PDF versions of the book cost money, Altemeyer has done his best to minimise the cost. You can order a hard copy of the book via Lulu.com for around $US10. An audio version of the book has now been made available too, read by Altemeyer and with a foreword by John Dean. At present, it can be ordered on CD from Cherry Hill Publishing, although an Audible download is in the pipeline as well.
Do you have a tip for future freebies? Contact me with any suggestions or requests.