2015 Student Research Conference:
28th Annual Student Research Conference

Politics, Privilege, and Prejudice: A Study of American Conservatism and the Authoritarian Personality
Karlea N. Harbaugh
Dr. Anton Daughters and Dr. Paul Shapiro, Faculty Mentors

Why do people indicating that they are politically conservative seem to show signs of an authoritarian personality? Questionnaires were distributed to the entire freshman student population at Truman State University in fall 2014. Participants received demographic questions, a modified authoritarian personality questionnaire, choice of public policy positions, and measures for entitlement and financial privilege. Here I propose that financially advantaged students are more likely to feel a sense of entitlement towards transformative assets and that this along with substantial political socialization of the family increases the likelihood of having an authoritarian perspective in the political realm. Conservative students scored higher than liberal and moderate students on this authoritarian personality measure, symbolizing an overall prejudicial disposition that is receptive to a fascist style government. This is inherently opposite of the fundamentally democratic objectives within our American political system. If all conservatives show these tendencies, their influence can completely transform America as we know it.

Keywords: Authoritarian, Entitlement, Privilege, Socialization, Politics, Ideology, Conservativism , Fascism

Topic(s):Political Science

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 411-1
Location: MG 2001
Time: 2:30

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