Narcissistic individuals and those with psychopathic tendencies are more likely to strongly endorse left-wing antihierarchical aggression, according to new research published in Current Psychology. Antihierarchical aggression refers to a specific type of hostility aimed at challenging or opposing hierarchical power structures or authority figures. The new findings shed light on psychological mechanisms that motivate some individuals to participate in violent political activism.
The majority of research on authoritarianism has focused on individuals with right-wing political ideologies. This focus has resulted in a gap in understanding authoritarianism among individuals who support left-wing political ideologies, which the authors behind the new work sought to address.
“We were interested in the psychological factors behind authoritarianism,” explained study authors Ann Krispenz, a postdoctoral associate, and Alex Bertrams, the head of the Educational Psychology Lab at the University of Bern. “There is a wide range of literature and research in the field of right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). However, research on authoritarianism observed in individuals who are supportive of left-wing political ideologies are still rare.”
“By many researchers, the notion of left-wing authoritarianism (LWA) is even been met with skepticism. Thus, we wanted to investigate LWA and its personality correlates using a recently published measure for LWA by Costello and colleagues (2022).”
Costello and colleagues conceptualized LWA as a tripartite construct consisting of three correlated dimensions: anticonventionalism, top-down censorship, and antihierarchical aggression.
“Authoritarianism can be found on both sides of the political spectrum,” Krispenz and Bertrams said. “Indicators of authoritarianism on the political left are anticonventionalism (i.e., the absolute endorsement of progressive moral values), top-down censorship (i.e., the preference for the use of governmental and institutional authority to suppress any speech that is considered as offensive and intolerant), and antihierarchical aggression (i.e., the motivation to use force and aggression to overthrow established hierarchies).”
“For example, an individual high in LWA might declare anyone to be ‘old fashioned’ who is opposing their own ‘progressive values,’ strive to suppress free speech to regulate the expression of right-wing beliefs in educational institutions, and even endorse the use of violence to reach their own political goals.”
Krispenz and Bertrams investigated the relationship between narcissism and left-wing authoritarianism in two studies, and utilized the online research platform Prolific to recruit samples of U.S. participants.
Their first study included 391 individuals with an average age of 46 years. The participants completed various online assessments using the Qualtrics software…
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