This site gives you a better definition than I could for reframing.
Looking back at last week's post we see the questions really are:
Why are some people so easily led while others will do anything to be leaders.
Why do some people still believe things that are disproved by facts.
Why are some people so aggressive in the name of moral or political values or is it something else entirely?
Why do some people fear, in the extreme, change?
Why do some people fear those different from themselves?
Why racism? Why homophobic fears? Why fear other religions?
In these next posts, I want to give you some beginning information from two books. One is political while the other is more about the social behaviors and actions found in studies of authoritarians.
Here we need to define a few things:
Why the books Conservatives Without Conscience by John W. Dean and Authoritarians by Bob Altemeyer. free here I chose to read the two books simultaneously as they are very interconnected. In an interview I saw on UCTV, John Dean talked about the studies on Authoritarianism and recommended the other book. His interest peaked my interest. Mostly however, I will be writing about The Authoritarians (Disclaimer: I am not necessarily a John Dean fan but find he can get my attention and I sometimes wondered about the reasons behind some of the chapters in Dr. Altemeyer's book. Guess I am not that easily led by “authorities.”)
Authoritarians Two kinds:
I had a hard time keeping my definitions of authoritarian out of my head at first.
My definitions were either about a form of government or a “bossy” person. But these are not quite appropriate.
Dr. Altemeyer explains that in his books on authoritarians he is mostly discussing extremely submissive “followers” of established authorities, “attacks others in their name, and is highly conventional.”
He lists 3 of the personality traits of the “followers”:
1)a high degree of submission to the established, legitimate, authorities in their society;
2)high levels of aggression in the name of their authorities; and
3)a high level of conventionalism.
Mr. Dean at one point describes authoritarianism as the behaviors and thinking of these personalities.
“The RWA scale is a personality test disguised as an attitude survey.”
the mid-point of the scale is 100. The higher the score the more the tendency to be an authoritarian follower.
Why the name “right-wing”:
The use of the word right as used here is “an adjective, right, lawful, proper, correct...”
Social Dominators who also score high on the religion, fundamentalism, scale but the why is interesting. These people go to church more often than most but they go to “project a good image...”
and “It is more important to create a good image of yourself in the minds of others than to be actually be the person others think you are.”
Conservatives: Two kinds political and social: As Dr. Altemeyer explains you can have high RWA's even within the Communist party in a Communist country. Remember submission to “his” authorities and highly conventional. So keep in mind we are not always talking about political conservatives.
Though, if you will, take a look at the chart on page 203. I found it very enlightening and interesting.
I had forgotten about the “Southern Democrats”. Historically an interesting bunch.
I found so much about the people studied confusing-hard for me to get my head around all the seeming inconsistencies in logic as I call it but as pointed out in the book the compartmentalization of their ideas allows for some pretty interesting, conflicting, thoughts.
Now let's look for some answers to our questions. (I think we can actually lump our questions into fewer questions yet.)
1.Why are some people so easily led and hang on to false “facts”?
2.Why are some so aggressive...?
3.Why the prejudices?
4.Who are their authorities and why?
Dr. Altemeyer, as I do, doesn't get into the genetics of High RWA's but allows for it. He begins with parental guidance, then to “missed experiences”. They are not introduced to different groups and ideas.
“They got a “2 for 1 special deal on fear...they were raised by their parents to be afraid of others...”
They “traveled around on short leashes in relatively small, tight, safe circles all their lives.”
Their parents “try to send their kids to “safe” colleges.”
(Also remember the group thing, individuals into the group Venn diagram)
The compartmentalization of their ideas allow for holding conflicting ideas at the same time and can lead to confusing justifications for various actions and decisions.
The high RWA has not further developed or “thought through their ideas as much as most people have...”
In Chapter three How Authoritarian Followers Think, “...a high RWA can have all sorts of illogical, self-contradictory, and widely refuted ideas rattling around in various boxes in his brain and never notice it.”
Dr. Altemeyer gives the usual disclaimer so do we all have “inconsistencies in reasoning” then:
“...research reveals that authoritarian followers...exhibiting sloppy reasoning, highly compartmentalized beliefs, double standards, hypocrisy, self-blindness, a profound ethnocentrism, and ...a ferocious dogmatism (see definition 2) that makes it unlikely anyone could ever change their minds.
...they do not in general have a very critical outlook on anything unless the authorities in their lives have condemned it for them.”
Thus they are easily led and easily become apprehensive, or fearful.
What about hanging on to false “facts”:
One example given concerns the Iraq war. The compartmental mind had no trouble in “believing that America stands for international cooperation and the peaceful resolution of conflict on one hand, while on the other hand insisting it has the “right” to attack whomever it wants...”
After all, in the ethnocentric mind “We are the Good Guys and our opponents are abominations”...
Will some of these people ever change their minds? Dr. Altemeyer believes some will by revising their personal histories. Others? “petrified by their dogmatism” never. (99)
I have given you a only a few of the explanations found in the book The Authoritarians for the first question. Partly because there is so much information and partly because I have a hard time compartmentalizing. I see so much about the high RWA conflicting and yet interconnected.
But there we have the beginnings of my studies.
I hope you learned something as I did and still do from this book.
Next post will look at the Dr. Altemeyer's book for some insight into aggression and if I can keep more focused, so much information, hopefully question 3.