What Authoritarian Voters Really Want

Aggression, Not Submission to Authority, May Be the Psychological Key to Supporters of Strongmen

Authoritarianism isn’t just a word. When the landmark study The Authoritarian Personality first gave the concept psychological depth in 1950, the memory of authoritarian movements was fresh and indelible. The intent of the new definition was to capture the many-sided extremism of those movements. “Authoritarian aggression” was defined as the tendency to “condemn, reject, and punish” cultural or moral outsiders, while authoritarian submission was a “submissive” and “uncritical” attitude toward idealized leaders of their own in-group.

In other words, for the originators of the concept, in-group leaders who condemn …