Do authoritarians suffer from cognitive defecits?
As predicted, for both samples, the authoritarianism scores covaried significantly with total cognitive task performance so that as the authoritarianism scores increased cognitive performance decreased.
When the acquisition of new material was in written format, authoritarianism interacted with reading skills to limit recognition and retention of new information.
When new material was presented orally, in a manner similar to that of a radio or television news broadcast or the giving of testimony during a trial, the task of retaining that information was significantly impacted by authoritarianism (accounting for 13% of the variance in recognition performance by the student sample).
From what I can tell, however, I'm not sure what kind of conclusions we can draw from this. So authoritarianism is correlated with decreased cognitive performance. But what causal mechanisms are at work? Does the authoritarian personality cause the loss of performance? Or is there some other hidden factor at work: age, childhood trauma, poverty, education levels, parenting styles (many claim this has an effect, but others are skeptical), familiarity with psychological tests, etc.
If this study is sound, it may have something to tell us progressives about how to reach a certain subset of voters. I think one clear conclusion we can draw is that I'm not the one to try to persuade such folks to pull the lever for the Dems. If these characteristics of the authoritarian personality are true:
Then I'd probably annoy the crap out of them just as much as they annoy the crap out of me. I'd try to persuade them in all the wrong ways and it would backfire horribly.
1) are less likely than most people to demonstrate self-awareness (Altemeyer, 1999) and
2) are more likely to favor religious beliefs over scientific data when the two appear to be in conflict (Westman et al., 2000).
3) exhibit more self-reported fear than the general population (Eigenberger, 1999),
4) tend to be prepared to cut low-status offenders more slack than high status offenders (Feather, 2002).
5) correlate with security values such as national strength and order, religiosity, and propriety in dress and manners (Heaven, 2001),
6) and individuals with high RWA scores tend to indicate negative attitudes toward homosexuality than the high SDO-scale (Whitley, et al., 2001).
7) individuals with high RWA scores may have greater trouble remembering what they read and making correct inferences (Wegmann, M.F. 1992).