Expertise and the Ideological Consequences of the Authoritarian Predisposition
Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 21 Aug 2009
Date Written: 2009
Recent research on the psychological bases of political ideology suggests that a number of “pre-political” variables influence individuals‟ ideological positions. This paper examines how the political implications of one such variable – the authoritarian predisposition – may be conditioned by citizens‟ political expertise. An examination of the 2000 and 2004 American National Election Studies revealed that (1) the relation between the authoritarian predisposition and conservatism was stronger among experts; (2) relations between the authoritarian predisposition and the two component facets of conservatism – opposition to equality and support for traditionalism – were also stronger among experts; and (3) the interactive effect of expertise and the authoritarian predisposition on conservatism was mediated by orientations toward equality and traditionalism. These findings suggest that the linkage between psychological variables and ideology may be contingent on one‟s understanding of abstract political ideas and indicate the need for a more nuanced understanding of what expertise contributes to democratic citizenship.
Keywords: authoritarianism, ideology, political expertise
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation