Authoritarianism and Church Influence on Ideology and Behavior
38 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2015
Date Written: November 15, 2015
Across the developing world, churches often seek to shape members’ public opinion and electoral behavior, yet we know little about which people are most likely to be influenced. Drawing from recent research on both authoritarian personality and moral foundations, I investigate the ways orientations towards hierarchy and authority shape responses to political influence in church. Two competing hypotheses present themselves. Authoritarians might be more likely to comply with religious authorities, or they might be less responsive if churches sway non-authoritarians towards the consistently conservative attitudes of authoritarians. Moreover, rigidity in cognitive style may make authoritarians less persuasible in general. Examining cross-national data from the 2012 AmericasBarometer and longitudinal data from Brazil’s 2014 presidential election, I find that churches affect more strongly the opinions of non-authoritarians on issues related to social conformity. However, authoritarians are most likely to heed religious cues when attitudes and behaviors are not driven by social conformity.
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