Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Personality Traits Of The Right Wing Extremist

There are many facets to the personality of a right-wing extremist. There have been many studies conducted on the issue. As a starting point, The Authoritarian Personality (1950) by Theodor Adorno, explored the connection between personality and fascist orientation. This study identified a personality connection characterize by a dynamic between authoritarian aggression and authoritarian submission. The study also found a common thread of anti-semantic and  anti-liberal sentiments existed in the right-wing extremist. However, much of this early study has given way to more recent research. But, the one constant factor remains, most right-wing extremist hold prejudices against minorities and any behavior that does not conform to the perceived values of the group.

In recent times, right-wing extremist have been re-labeled right-wing authoritarian followers.   

In a sense, these attitudes are broad social, and political predispositions and feelings towards people who are outside the authoritarian belief patterns.  Recent research has focused on exogenous personal dispositions, in order to identify and explain individual differences and political orientations and behaviors.

These dispositions or traits are;

  • Openness to experience.
  • Conscientiousness.
  • Extraversion.
  • Agreeableness.
  • Neuroticism (or emotional instability)
People who score high on openness are curious, open-minded, creative and value novel stimuli. The conscientiousness person loves for there to be an order and obedience to norms and rules. Impulse control and task orientated goals are paramount. Extraversion implies an out-going personality and approach to life. Traits such as sociability, assertiveness and positive emotionality are common in extraversion personalities.People who score high on agreeableness are modest, trusting, altruistic and tender-minded. Neuroticism describes a pattern of negative emotions. That is related to feelings of anxiety, vulnerability and uneasiness.

There has been an ever increasing bevy of empirical data on these personality traits which investigates attitudes towards out-group members, especially immigrants. This new evidence has clearly shown that openness to experience is the most important predictor for differences of prejudice towards these out-groups. This attitude differs from the right-wing authoritarian who tends to feel they have a social dominance over these so-called out-groups. They tend to have a superior sense of morality for example. Similarly, agreeableness persons show a high disregard for right-wing authoritarianism and their views of social dominance and negatively reject right-wing extremist orientations. By contrast, conscientiousness people have shown a severe disdain for minorities and immigrants according to the study. They embrace right-wing authoritarian viewpoints, and many either agree with or find an excuse for right-wing extremist actions. Neuroticism [Neurotic] relates solely to right-wing authoritarian views and makeup a majority of people who join or participate or sympathize with right-wing extremist groups. The Extraversion [ Extrovert] exhibits no systematic association with out-group derogation or right-wing extremist elements.
Right-Wing Extremist

Based of this research, this writer contends that people who tend to be opened-minded to experiences are tolerant to others from  perceived out-groups. People from another background are interesting to the open-minded person.  Moreover, this open-mindedness fosters appreciation for their different ideas and opinions. This reality makes them less likely to advocate anti-pluralist political ideologies.  For this reason, most open-minded people are demagogued by the right-wing extremist as being such things as socialist, communist, do-gooders, and lastly, liberal swine. In fairness, the open-minded person tends to feel that the right-wing extremist are uneducated derelicts of society. People who score high in agreeableness approach others with trust and are sociable and don't tend to get caught up in group boundaries. Moreover, agreeable persons are altruistic and advocate equality rights and support democratic ideas rather than laws of the strongest and go fend for yourself mentalities of the right -wing extremist.

However, people high in conscientiousness show a deep hate and fear of those in the out-groups. They challenge their established group relations, traditions, and social norms. In addition, their love for order makes them more comfortable with authoritarian political beliefs. With the Neurotic, who tend to be emotionally unstable they feel threaten by those in the out-groups. They show the condition of  institutional racism and exhibit superiority attitudes towards minorities and immigrants alike. These attitudes serve as compensation for their paranoia, and feelings of uncertainty. Therefore, they are attracted to right -wing extremist beliefs.  For the Extrovert, relationships can be ambiguous. They value self-expression and self-enhancement which results in a view for the obvious, " freedom of expression." However, this sense of freedom coupled with their dominant focus on their personal advantage some extroverts draw to the hierarchy-based beliefs of the authoritarian and can lead them to right-wing extremism.  


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