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The Authoritarians Paperback – January 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • Publisher: Bob Altemeyer (2007)
  • ASIN: B002ACQPSW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,291,536 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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I am on my second "listen" of this book through Audible.
Mary B. Weathers
In short, this is a book more about psychology -- and to some degree, philosophy -- than political ideology.
William Timothy Lukeman
It's really unfortunate that this book never made the mainstream.
Brian Wagner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Brian Wagner on June 1, 2009
Format: Paperback
It's really unfortunate that this book never made the mainstream. It may be party because it's available free [...]

Altemeyer's 'The Authoritarians' is a compilation of years of research he's done on a personality type he identified and labeled "Right Wing Authoritarian." This label does not imply that all authoritarians are right wing. There can be left wing authoritarians but we simply don't see them in the US and Canada for his research was mostly done.

Though the webpage has some political diatribe it is mostly absent from the book which explores the various beliefs of RWAs. RWAs include very few in their 'in' group and villify their 'out' group. They have many hypocrisy's which they don't notice due to their highly compartmentalized thinking. They respect might over reason and are willing to do terrible things under the direction of a proper authority, especially if the person on the receiving end is some sort of outsider. Their fear of the world and change fuels their aggression. Worst of all, they control a large portion of our government.

While Right Wing Authoritarians can be considered dangerous fools, Social Dominators (also discussed in the book) could arguably be considered evil. They view people as tools to be used for their own benefit, are uninterested in helping others unless they will receive more in return and delight in using RWAs for their own purposes.

While the RWA personality corresponds very highly with fundamentalist religion, it is distinct. Anyone who's read Sam Harris' 'Letter to a Christian Nation' or 'The End of Faith' should give this a read. After reading this I believe that while religion may focus people to maladaptive ends, this book really gets at the root of the problem.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By mathboy on October 31, 2009
Format: Audio CD
"The Authoritarians" is authored by a researcher from the University of Manitoba named Bob Altemeyer who has spent 40 years investigating the question of who, why and how people become what he terms "right wing authoritarians" which is not to imply that only right wingers are authoritarians, BTW.

I read the Authoritarians and I can tell you it explains a lot. It explains who and what Rush Limbaugh is, how he operates, why he lies and why it doesn't bother him. Ditto Ann Coulter, Roger Ailes and the whole Fox News crew and why they don't see themselves as everyone else (except other RWAs) sees them. It explains what the relationship between the kind of people who are in The Family - hThe Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power - and the people who empower them by voting for them and why they're always dangerous.

It also explains what we're seeing right now for instance in the 23rd Congressional race in Upstate N.Y. for anyone who is following that saga. (RWAs can't stand anyone who doesn't exactly adhere to their ideology)

Perfect examples of RWAs are the Fundamentalists / Evangelical Christians, Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Dick Cheney but also probably a lot of people you have to deal with on a regular basis, for instance your father-in-law or your neighbor. Understanding what makes these people tick, what they'll likely to do (or try to do) and why they're impervious to reasoned argument or contradictory evidence changed my view of the world; how many books can you say that about? Precious few.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Mary B. Weathers on February 2, 2010
Format: Audio CD
I am on my second "listen" of this book through Audible. As a psychologist myself, I want data to go with opinions. This book has data in spades. This is his first popular book on the topic of authoritarianism, following research that goes back four decades in the US and Canada, as well as collaboration with research in Russia. It explains in clear language, how the right wing authoritarian followers think, how they act, and how they are so gullible to being led by social dominators. While he does make political statements, these statements are backed up by a wealth of research. Any progressive who reads this and has watched what has happened to the US, will understand why we are so exasperated with seemingly intelligent people who seem so illogical, irrational, hypocritical, and dogmatic. They are often of fundamental religious persuasion. These people will follow their socially dominant leaders aggressive and sometimes violent acts without question. The socially dominant leaders whom they follow are truly frightening as they often mascarade as "one of them", but are actually without conscience and totally consumed by hunger for power. I would call this, for me, as enlightening as any book I have read in a decade.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Jp Christy on June 18, 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I'm on my second listen of this book. I value the insights and the science behind them. Professor Altemeyer's relaxed reading of his own material makes this information an enjoyable listen. More importantly, his explanation of the difference between a conservative outlook and an authoritarian personality has enabled me to understand how a vocal, fearful minority can shout down the civil discussions and nuanced outlook of a less fearful, less forceful majority.

I have been recommending this book to liberals and conservatives alike. Well done!
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