Left-wing support of authoritarian submission to protect against societal threat

Taylor Winter, Paul E. Jose, Benjamin C. Riordan, Boris Bizumic, Ted Ruffman, John A. Hunter, Todd K. Hartman, Damian Scarf*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)


    New Zealand's Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, adopted a "go hard, go early"approach to eliminate COVID-19. Although Ardern and her Labour party are considered left-leaning, the policies implemented during the pandemic (e.g., police roadblocks) have the hallmarks of Right-Wing Authoritarianism (RWA). RWA is characterized by three attitudinal clusters (authoritarian aggression, submission, and conventionalism). The uniqueness of the clusters, and whether they react to environmental change, has been debated. Here, in the context of the pandemic, we investigate the relationship between political orientation and RWA. Specifically, we measured political orientation, support for New Zealand's major political parties, and RWA among 1,430 adult community members. A multivariate Bayesian model demonstrated that, in the middle of a pandemic, both left-leaning and right-leaning individuals endorsed items tapping authoritarian submission. In contrast to authoritarian submission, and demonstrating the multidimensional nature of RWA, we observed the typical relationships between political orientation and authoritarian aggression and conventionalism was observed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere0269930
    JournalPLoS ONE
    Issue number7 July
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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