By Jason Michael

It may be the case that conservatives and “yoons” are a natural product of human social evolution. Apparently, according to a growing number of social science heads, if we were all socially progressive we’d take too many risks and endanger the species.

Have you ever stopped to wonder why Scottish No voters and English Brexiteers have so much in common? Why is it that US Trump supporters hold almost exactly the same social and political opinions as people in the UK who are against marriage equality? One would expect, where all others things are equal, that a person who is opposed to Scottish independence would have a fair chance of sharing the same position as a Yes voter on another question – immigration for example. This is not the case, however. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but, in the main, where one stands on constitutional matters largely determines a whole set of political beliefs. Research has in fact uncovered a right-wing personality disorder.

In social movement theory it is generally accepted that, to a greater or lesser degree, people conform to the set of beliefs and assumptions that are predominant in the social group or movement to which they have become attached. This view would hold that someone might gradually adopt environmentalist positions, for example, as a result of being socially engaged with environmentalists. No doubt there is a great deal of truth to this, but social psychology is starting to identify individual character traits that predispose people to certain political opinions. Where previously it had been held that right-wing authoritarianism was a worldview individuals developed over time and by experience, it is now being suggested there exists a right-wing personality.

Such right-wing personality types have a lot in common, and we see them every day. Whether passive or active, this is expressed as a form of aggressiveness brought about by fear and anxiety. Right-wing personalities are social conservatives and traditionalists by nature, resulting from a hard-wired sense of fear of anything new or unexpected – resulting in paranoia and social anxiety leading to defensiveness and often aggression. They fear non-existent threats and bogeymen, such as media-hyped virus outbreaks, encroaching Islamification, and terrorism, and are more likely to be swept up in moral panics and victimise socially vulnerable scapegoats.

According to the research this is a natural human condition and beneficial to society so long as it is balanced by adventurousness, inquisitiveness, and such progressive traits in other parts of the population. It follows that people with this personality type find political representation and voice in politicians and parties that espouse rigid and authoritarian policy positions on immigration, minority rights, law and order, and legal and constitutional change. These people have a highly developed will to power and like to be both in charge and in the majority. This obviously becomes a problem when this political force becomes the dominant power in society.

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Authoritarianism: The political science that explains Trump


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