Do threats galvanize authoritarians or mobilize non-authoritarians? Experimental tests from 19 European societies

Claassen, C. and McLaren, L. (2021) Do threats galvanize authoritarians or mobilize non-authoritarians? Experimental tests from 19 European societies. Political Psychology, 42(4), pp. 677-694. (doi: 10.1111/pops.12720)

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Authoritarian predispositions and contextual threats are both thought to result in intolerance and prejudice towards immigrants and other minorities. Yet there is considerable dispute as to how authoritarianism and threat interact to produce an “authoritarian dynamic.” Some scholars argue that threats increase intolerance by “galvanizing” authoritarians. Others claim that authoritarians are always intolerant toward outgroups, with threat instead “mobilizing” nonauthoritarians. Using experimental manipulations of immigrant cultural threat embedded in nationally representative samples from 19 European societies, this study offers a test of these competing hypotheses. While we find some evidence for the “galvanizing” hypothesis, we find no evidence for the “mobilizing” hypothesis. The effects vary considerably across national samples however, with immigrants from Muslim societies being particularly likely to activate authoritarian predispositions. These findings show how the migration of culturally distinctive groups has the potential to activate authoritarian dispositions, thereby pushing the issue of immigration to the center of political debates.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Claassen, Dr Christopher
Authors: Claassen, C., and McLaren, L.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Politics
Journal Name:Political Psychology
ISSN (Online):1467-9221
Published Online:09 December 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 International Society of Political Psychology
First Published:First published in Political Psychology 42(4): 677-694
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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