I greatly admire this book and have told many others about it. I would like you to write another version or different book on bullies. Bullies are authoritarians, but people are more interested in reading about bullies than authoritarians because many dont know what an authoritarian is while everyone has had contact with bullies.
Sorry I just have to share this little bit of irony. Everyone should go take the conservative quiz at the Manning Centre for Building Democracy:
I don't know if they meant to crib the RWA scale, but there is an uncanny resemblance - to the point of being a right wing parody of Dr. Altemeyer's work. They even broke it into three aspects which map nicely to authoritarian submission, authoritarian aggression, and conventionalism. Of course the fine print thanks Dr. Andre Turcotte for contributing to the scale; so maybe there is something more to this than a savant ability at psychometrics.
Engagingly written, highly interesting, and seductive since I want to agree that 'they' - authoritarian personalities and religious fundamentalists - have basically different (and impaired) thinking processes than 'us'. However, Bob's use of loaded words (like hypocrite) and mocking phrases (like - three shy of a trio) makes me wonder if Bob's purpose is to persuade in addition to (or even - gasp - instead of) informing.
I looked for comments by Bob's peers about his work, but couldn't find any. If anyone knows of such, please email me.
PS - I scored 32 on the authoritarian scale.
Zvi the Fiddler
It is 2012 and I just read your book. You hit the nail on the head. The authoritarians are winning. I believe all hope to reverse this is is over.
Thanks for this important book -- it's fairly familiar territory to me but I enjoyed your tone and presentation a great deal, particularly the Global Change Game and its differing outcomes (one could practically hear the milling and bleating on the "all-RWA, no double-high" night). I would be interested to read your responses to the critics/detractors you mention in the footnotes (J.L. Martin, whose criticism I couldn't locate gratis anywhere, and John J. Ray, whose invective is freely available on his own website). Please feel free to email them to me.
Other readers interested in this and related subjects would do well to look up the Stanford Prison Experiment, as well as the following works. I'm not a representative of or otherwise affiliated with any of these authors.
Phillip Zimbardo, The Lucifer Effect
James Waller, Becoming Evil
Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door
Robert Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism
the essay series of David Neiwert on eliminationism, pseudo-fascism, and hate crimes, hosted on his blog
This is probably the only book I'd recommend to everyone I know, in fact probably the only book I will recommend from this point onwards. And I will certainly be recommending it.
My only gripe is that I'm British (sic) and as a group we have quite a different relationship to religion, so it'd be interesting to see how the RWA scale would have to be adapted to identify British high RWAs. I don't think I'll attempt it personally...
I had to tell you how many answers your book has given me! I have for years been the one shaking my head in disbelief at the RWAs in my country, wondering how they can get it so wrong so BADLY! Thank you thank you thank you for having an obsession with figuring out this conundrum! I am truly in awe of your research, and what it has turned up.
I am, obviously, much more terrified for the future of America now that we have seen the god-awful Republican primary season. I did have a good laugh while reading, and thinking about Mitt's etch-a-sketch; then, I cried . It was fascinating to read your assessments of both the 2008 election and the tea party, although they didn't reassure me any! I'm betting you don't spend a lot of time trawling political sites; I do, and it is absolutely breathtaking to see how rabidly so many Americans hate our president!!! It is mind blowing to me that any thinking person could possibly believe him to be a radical left wing Socialist, Communist, AND Nazi (mostly because I assume that thinking people actually know what all those words mean!) but then I remember your research and realize that the problem is THEY AREN'T THINKING.
At any rate, I have now passed along your work! I wish there was a way to get it out to a much broader audience! Maybe you could do The Daily Show !
thank you, again and again. This work was enlightening and inspiring.
I notice you've gone on at length about the Tea Party movement. Any comments on the Coffee Party movement or the OWS movements Mr. Altemeyer? Or President Obama's penchant for ignoring the US Constitution? If I have the time (and remember to) I'll look myself...
I read you e-book about three years ago and have either sent copies or highly recommended it to many people. The material on the Global Change Game I have cited many many times. The material on Stanley Milgram's experiments was fantastic! Most references to Milgram only report the one experiment where the subject was asked to shock the shill but no mention of the more nuanced experiments where there were multiple shills where some shills refused to partake in the experiment. I really took that to heart and now speak up loudly whenever I see authoritarian injustice and call it for what it is. I am involved now in setting up an intelligent social networking site to help organize progressives to get around the cat herding problem so that people can have a sense of personal control as to which social activist projects they sign on to. Bob, you have been one hell of an inspiration to thousands of us who have struggled to understand exactly what is going on and how we can fight back. Thanks a million billion.
'Just finished reading The Authoritarians. I have already recommended it to several people by way of e-mails, FB, and in conversation. I shall continue to recommend it whenever possible. Why? Because, amongst other things, the book subordinates the relic, misleading dichotomies of right vs. left, socialist vs. capitalist, government vs. private industry, and provides essential information with which to assess individual and group behavior.
I read several of Prof. Altemeyer's books years ago when they were first published, and I was in the midst of a struggle to understand what was (is) happening to the principles of democracy in the country where I was born and have lived my life. A country with the remarkable good fortune to be founded by a well-balanced group of liberals and conservatives whose respective traits complemented each other to great success. How could any of them have imagined that many of the perverse traits of the English monarchy they fought to escape would return, not by way of attack by forces beyond our borders, but from some among the United States' own citizens? The thing that makes Altemeyer's work so important is that it goes well beyond a mere recounting of events. It's not enough to simply detail a sequence of events and then comment on them, although such books and articles do have value. People of all varieties must have some grasp of the "why" that shapes their lives, not just the "what, when and where." That's a human need that spans activity ranging from matters of politics to matters of spirituality. Without intending to, the person who left a message here saying that the beginning of one of Altemeyer's books was boring touched on the power of these studies on authoritarians. Any good scientist, any good clinical researcher, always lays a careful groundwork to ensure objective and accurate results. It's not supposed to be exciting; it's not entertainment or a Rush Limbaugh endorsement of someone's darkest impulses. Here's hoping Altemeyer's audience continues to grow and his writing inspires a new generation of thoughtful social researchers. Now, that's exciting. The same excitement that infused our nation when it was young, and peopled dared to envision a type of government that would transcend the ugliness and despair of the thousand failed tyrannies which passed before.
Very interesting read so far...if the first chapter is the most boring part, that bodes well for the rest of the book.
Not surprisingly, I came up in the middle of the personal RWA test. I'm an evangelical Christian ... but who is also staunchly left-wing politically. I guess I have to remember that I'm an individual, and finding a large group of American-born, Democratic-voting Pentecostals might not be the easiest task in the world. ;-)
I took a class with Prof. Bob Altemeyer from 2005 to 2006. I remember the survey he gave us for his research and I remember him talking about authoritarians in class. It really opened my eyes to what "authoritarian" meant. However, I had no idea that such a great book was being written at the same time that I was in Prof. Bob Altemeyer's class! I am so happy I can download the book now and learn more about authoritarians.
I have to say Prof. Bob Altemeyer was one of the best if not the best lecturers I had at the University of Manitoba. I learned so much from him. I will forever remember "hippocampus"
I am wondering if this has any connection with or helps to explain the Authoritarian personality?
Privilege promotes dishonesty
I just finished listening to The Authoritarians in Audio format. I'm a 55+ year old Canadian (actually, a dual citizen), a single dad with 3 kids and have been living in the US for the last 15+ years. Dr. Bob's book is phenomenal - it nails the RWA mind set perfectly and puts opinions I've held for a long time in a more formal / organized context.. Thank you for not only distilling your research in print, but for taking the time to do the audio version.