How a terror attack affects right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation, and their relationship to torture attitudes

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Abstract

Self‐reported level of right‐wing authoritarianism (RWA), the two facets of social dominance orientation (SDO‐Dominance and SDO‐Egalitarianism) and pro‐torture attitudes were measured both in the immediate aftermath (terror salience, N = 152) of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels and when terrorism was not salient (non‐salience, N = 140). Results showed that RWA and pro‐torture attitudes, but not SDO‐Dominance and SDO‐Egalitarianism, were significantly higher immediately after. Furthermore, RWA and SDO both predicted pro‐torture attitudes more strongly under terror salience. We argue that the reason why RWA is higher under terror salience is a response to external threat, and that SDO‐Dominance may be more clearly related to acceptance of torture and other human‐rights violations, across context. Future research on the effects of terror‐related events on sociopolitical and pro‐torture attitudes should focus on person‐situation interactions and also attempt to discriminate between trait and state aspects of authoritarianism.

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  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-552
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume59
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch
Peer-reviewedYes