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The Authoritarian Specter Hardcover – December 15, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0674053052 ISBN-10: 0674053052
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Editorial Reviews


Is fascism just around the corner? Will some social crisis or national panic evoke totalitarian solutions? Or are we reasonably protected from arbitrary cancellation of democratic institutions? This book provides assessment of the psychological potential of populations to support, accede, or resist the imposition of authoritarian rule...To our good fortune, Dr. Altemeyer has provided a unique and coherent body of solid scientific information...[and] he deploys a light, clear style and an engaging sense of humor...The most rewarded reader, and the one for whom the book was written, will be that citizen who retains a dedication to the retrieval and preservation of democracy. I hope for such a person that the book stays in print forever. (Thomas H. Lewis Journal of the American Medical Association)

A marvelous work, beautifully written. The sections on cognitive behavior, double standards, sex, religion, left-wing authoritarianism, and the authoritarianism of legislators make important contributions to our understanding. (Sam McFarland, Western Kentucky University)

The study of authoritarianism is currently experiencing a marked upsurge of interest and activity, and Bob Altemeyer deserves a great deal of the credit. The research that he reports in this lively book is of great interest to those who are concerned with events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, and will serve as a touchstone for future work. (William F. Stone, University of Maine)

About the Author

Bob Altemeyer is Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Manitoba.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 374 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (November 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674053052
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674053052
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,206,571 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 98 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Altemeyer is regarded by social psychologists as the world's leading authority on the psychology of political conservatism and the psychology of religious fundamentalism. He has also done the most-extensive studies in the psychology of bigotry. Altemeyer has submitted his fascinating personality-questionnaire to over 50,000 individuals, including young and old, various academic specializations, Republicans, Democrats, Christians, Jews, Moslems, religious reformists, religious fundamentalists, atheists, agnostics, professional politicians, U.S., Canada, the former Soviet Union--many categories of people. He has applied the sophisticated mathematical technique of factorial analysis to the results, so as to identify how a wide range of personality variables naturally cluster together or separate--are actually the same or different from one another. He has found that political conservatism, religious fundamentalism, and all kinds of bigotry--against Jews, gays, Blacks, women, the poor, and many other minority or other weak groups--cluster together as actually a single personality-trait, which he has thus called "Right-Wing Authoritarianism." He was amazed to find, when he submitted his questionnaires to members of the communist party in the former Soviet Union, that they too scored very high on his "RWA" scale--that the U.S.S.R.'s communists were true conservatives. However, communists in capitalist countries, interestingly, scored low on "RWA" or conservatism.
This book is a more-updated version of Altemeyer's ENEMIES OF FREEDOM, which won the Behavioral Science Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science. However, it is not by any means a revised edition--it is a new work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rock Fan on June 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm not going to lie and say that I breezed my way through this book, the terminology/dry statistics etc were a challenge. I definitely read it though and it took me a while. His research is apparently not widely known about, and that is DEFINITELY to our society's detriment. His self-published follow-up The Authoritarians is much more neophyte-friendly and I sincerely appreciate his effort to make the research more accessible, it helped a dummy like me, It is more up-to-date (2006), and there is a VERY inexpensive PDF option (insert joke here).

Since it is a self-published book, it is not on Amazon. Hopefully some patriotic Publisher will pick it up, but I'm not holding my breath waiting, the information contain may be TOO consequential (if you understand my logic). I cannot post my glowing review of it (google it to find it), the Audio version IS on Amazon and should provide more info. The Authoritarians

(This book "The Authoritarian Specter" is 'just' jaw-dropping, but his newer book "The Authoritarians" is simply mind-blowing.)
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1 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bassman on May 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I just started to read this book. But if the rest of the book is as entertaining as the Acknowledgments section at its beginning, I am going to love this book. Don't skip over the Acknowledgments section.
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