Finding the Loch Ness Monster: Left-Wing Authoritarianism in the United States

Lucian Gideon Conway, Shannon Houck, Laura Janelle Gornick, Meredith A. Repke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Although past research suggests authoritarianism may be a uniquely right-wing phenomenon, the present two studies tested the hypothesis that authoritarianism exists in both right-wing and left-wing contexts in essentially equal degrees. Across two studies, university (n=475) and Mechanical Turk (n=298) participants completed either the RWA (right-wing authoritarianism) scale or a newly developed (and parallel) LWA (left-wing authoritarianism) scale. Participants further completed measurements of ideology and three domain-specific scales: prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. Findings from both studies lend support to an authoritarianism symmetry hypothesis: Significant positive correlations emerged between LWA and measurements of liberalism, prejudice, dogmatism, and attitude strength. These results largely paralleled those correlating RWA with identical conservative-focused measurements, and an overall effect-size measurement showed LWA was similarly related to those constructs (compared to RWA) in both Study 1 and Study 2. Taken together, these studies provide evidence that LWA may be a viable construct in ordinary U.S. samples.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPolitical Psychology
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Ideology
  • Left-wing authoritarianism
  • Right-wing authoritarianism
  • Rigidity of the right

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science and International Relations

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